Lockdown has been named as the Collins Dictionary Word of the Year 2020 at a time when dozens of previously uncommon words have become everyday because of coronavirus.
Defining lockdown as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces” the dictionary said it added the term because it “encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people who have had to restrict their daily lives in order to contain the virus”.
Collins’ lexicographers registered over a quarter of a million usages of lockdown during 2020, against only 4,000 the previous year.
The annual 10-strong list of additions is dominated by words and phrases relating to the pandemic, including furlough, key worker, self-isolate and social distancing.
Coronavirus itself also features.
Key worker has seen a 60-fold increase in usage reflecting the importance attributed to professions considered to be essential to society.
Helen Newstead, language content consultant at Collins, said: “Language is a reflection of the world around us and 2020 has been dominated by the global pandemic.
“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 socialize.
“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.”
Also new to the dictionary is the abbreviation BLM for the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd in the US.
And Megxit makes an appearance – coined after harry and Meghan decided to leave the UK for America.
Added to the dictionary this year for the first time are TikToker, which describes someone who shares content on the TikTok social media platform, and mukbang, defined as a host who broadcasts videos of themselves eating a large quantity of food.