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The word was chosen by the Collins Dictionary because it has been a unifying experience for people all over the world in their collective effort to fight against the spread of coronavirus. Photo credit: KB / BD.  

Czech Rep., Nov 10 (BD) – Collins Dictionary has announced ‘‘Lockdown’’ as the Word of The Year 2020. The word was chosen because it is one which unified billions of people sharing the same trying experience. Ten words made it to the shortlist for word of the year, the majority of which are related to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As well as its significant impact on lives around the world, the pandemic has also influenced language. The word “lockdown” has defined the lives of billions around the world in 2020. Collins recorded exponential growth in the use of the word, with over a quarter of a million uses this year, compared to only 4,000 in 2019. 

Originally a word used in the vocabulary of prisons, ‘‘lockdown’’ referred to inmates being confined to their cells in the event of a disturbance in the prison. In 2020, use of the term has gained a new meaning in public understanding as referring to a public health measure. 

The coronavirus pandemic brought several more words to the surface this year which dominated the Collins Dictionary shortlist, but others such as Megxit, BLM (Black Lives Matter), TikToker and Mukbang, remind us that Covid-19 was not the only big story going on this year.

Top 10 shortlisted words of 2020 (Collins Dictionary):

Lockdown: the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces.

Coronavirus: any one of a group of RNA-containing viruses that can cause infectious illnesses of the respiratory tract, including COVID-19. So-called because of their crown-like appearance in electron micrographs.

Megxit: the withdrawal of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from royal duties, announced in January 2020. From Meg(han), Duchess of Sussex and (e)xit; influenced by Brexit.

Self-isolate: to undergo quarantine on confirmation or suspicion of having a contagious disease.

Social distancing: the practice of maintaining a certain distance from other people in order to prevent infection with a disease. 

Furlough: a temporary laying-off of employees, usually because there is insufficient work to occupy them

Key Worker: an employee in a profession considered to be essential to the functioning of society.

BLM: an abbreviation for Black Lives Matter – a movement that campaigns against racially motivated violence and oppression

TikToker: a person who regularly shares or appears in videos on TikTok

Mukbang (noun, Korean): a video or webcast in which the host eats a large quantity of food for the entertainment of viewers. From meogeun (‘eating’) and bangsong (‘broadcast’).

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