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The 2020 word of the year is…

By November 10, 2020No Comments

Collins Dictionary have announced their top 10 words of 2020. Don’t cheat and scroll down, but I bet you can guess at least half of them.

2020 word of the year lockdown

Top marks if you included lockdown – the Collins 2020 word of the year.

Helen Newstead, language content consultant at Collins, explained:

“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.”

And more words and phrases that we’d never heard of before January have become absolutely fundamental to our lives.

The Collins Dictionary top 10 words of 2020

coronavirus: there has been an extraordinary 35,000-fold increase in use year-on-year.

furlough: the temporary laying-off of employees – a word previously confined to the HR departments of companies looking to cut costs.

key worker or keyworker: all those who keep the wheels of society turning (and are never paid enough for it).

lockdown: originally prison vocabulary, when inmates are confined to their cells because of a disturbance on the wing. 2020 is the year its meaning shifted irrevocably.

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.

BLM – or Black Lives Matter –the huge antiracism movement that showed that social progress is possible even in the midst of a health crisis.

mukbang: From the Korean words meogneun (eating) and bangsong (broadcast). It means “a video or webcast in which the host eats a large quantity of food for the entertainment of viewers”. I have to say that one passed me by (thankfully) …

self-isolate: to do the right thing, be amazed at the kindness of friends and neighbours, test our resilience … and emerge appreciating the great outdoors (or even a stroll down the street) as never before.

social distancing: so alien to the human spirit, yet vital to prevent infection. It has become second nature, but we can’t wait for the day that hugs, handshakes and having to fight your way to the bar to get a drink are back.

TikToker: a person who regularly shares or appears in videos on TikTok. The video sharing site exploded during lockdown. Not least for Generation Z, for whom it’s a way of life.

As Helen Newstead summarises,

“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.”

Let’s hope maybe next year’s words will include the name of a vaccine that is equally life changing?



I’m Lesley Hussell and my job is to bring some copywriting magic to your business, so you sell more, inspire your staff or spread your message far and wide. You’ll want to know how I measure up against other copywriters you’re considering, and whether I’m good enough to be trusted with your brand. If you’re looking for quick wit, creative thinking and a flair for compelling content writing.