Collins Dictionary said on Tuesday that ‘lockdown’ is its Word of The Year in 2020 following a dramatic increase in usage during the spread of Covid-19.
Lexicographers said they picked the word because it had become synonymous with the experience of populations across the world as governments look to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
‘It is a unifying experience for billions of people across the world, who have had collectively to play their part in combating the spread of COVID-19,’ publishers Harper Collins said.
Collins registered more than a quarter of a million usages of ‘lockdown’ during 2020, against only 4,000 the previous year.
Because of the way the pandemic has affected the daily use of language, six of Collins’ 10 words of the year in 2020 are related to the global health crisis.
‘Coronavirus’, ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolate’ and ‘furlough’ as well as ‘lockdown’ and ‘key worker’ were included in the longer list of 10 words of the year.
‘Key worker’ alone has seen a 60-fold increase in usage reflecting the importance attributed this year to professions considered to be essential to society.
‘With many countries entering a second lockdown, it is not a word of the year to celebrate but it is, perhaps, one that sums up the year for most of the world.’
Collins defines ‘lockdown’ as ‘the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces’.
According to the dictionary, coronavirus is: ‘Any one of a group of RNA-containing viruses that can cause infectious illnesses of the respiratory tract, including COVID-19.’
Significant social and political developments beyond the virus have also been reflected in the list, which has already made its way into online editions of the English dictionary.