Words of 2020

It’s been a crazy year unlike any other.

And while I’ve continued working throughout, as a lover of words and a wordsmith by profession, I’ve been keeping a keen eye on how our language has evolved over the past 12 months.

Back in January, who had even heard of ‘anthropause’ and ‘Covid-19’?!

So it comes as no surprise that in November Collins Dictionary declared its word of the year for 2020 was ‘lockdown’. With close contenders all linked to the global pandemic such as ‘Coronavirus’, ‘furlough’, ‘key worker’, ‘self-isolate’ and ‘social distancing’.

And just a few weeks later, Oxford Dictionaries announced it had struggled to pinpoint just one word for the year so issued a whole report on them instead.

Entitled Words of an Unprecedented Year, it includes everything from ‘anthropause’, ‘circuit-breaker’, ‘Coronavirus’ and ‘Covid-19’, to ‘face masks’, ‘furlough’, ‘keyworkers’, ‘support bubbles’, ‘remote’ and ‘unmute’. As well as non-pandemic phrases like ‘bushfires’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’.

Quite an eclectic and exceptional mix. But then it’s been an eclectic and exceptional year.

I’m all for expanding our vocabulary as it helps language thrive and survive; but perhaps not on this scale and for this reason…

Here’s to 2021. 🙂

About Author

Claire Dee

Director and founder of Surrey-based business consultancy Claire Dee Communications.

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