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Words of the Year

About this time every year, the Western world’s dictionaries decide what the Word of the Year is. Most notably, the Oxford Dictionary began first to identify words or expressions that have attracted a lot of interest over the previous 12 months.

Every year, the Oxford Dictionary says, “candidates for Word of the Year are debated and one is eventually chosen that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.”

In 2016, just after Donald Trump was elected, Oxford Dictionary chose “post-truth” as its Word of the Year:

  • post-truth adjective = Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.

Just released, this year’s chosen word is “toxic,” meaning “poisoned” or “imbued with poison,” which first appeared in English in the mid-17th century from the medieval Latin toxicus,. According to oxforddictionaries.com, there was a 45 per cent increase in use of the word this year, and it most often appeared with these top five words: chemical, masculinity; substance; gas, and environment.

Dictionaries.com chose “misinformation” as its Word of the Year, defined as “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.” According to the website, “the recent explosion of misinformation and the growing vocabulary we use to understand it have come up again and again in the work of our lexicographers.”

Cambridge Dictionaries chose “nomophobia” this year. I’ve never heard of it either, but apparently the people chose it.

  • nomophobia noun = fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it.

What word would you have chosen for 2018? What word has come up over and over again, in news stories, conversations and general social media banter? I’m siding with Collins Dictionary, which chose:

  • Single-use adjective = a product designed to be used once only; OR items whose unchecked proliferation are blamed for damaging the environment and affecting the food chain.

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