Lockdown, the noun that has come to define so many lives across the world in 2020, was on Tuesday declared the word of the year by Collins Dictionary. The word 'Lockdown' was defined by Collins as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces”, and its usage has boomed over the last year. Lexicographers registered more than 250,000 usages of "lockdown" during 2020, up from just 4,000 last year.
BREAKING NEWS The Collins Word of the Year is… lockdown. Find out more about #CollinsWOTY 2020 and see the full shortlist here: https://t.co/4ZAEE47p9H#wordoftheyear #CollinsDictionary #lockdown pic.twitter.com/3OLL7RfSwS— Collins Dictionary (@CollinsDict) November 10, 2020
“We have chosen lockdown as our word of the year because it encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people who have had to restrict their daily lives in order to contain the virus. Lockdown has affected the way we work, study, shop, and socialise. 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 said.
"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.
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.
"2020 has been dominated by the global pandemic," Helen Newstead, a language consultant at Collins, said.