by 👩💻 Alice Monroe
Both the Collins Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) choose what they believe to be their ‘word of the year’ towards the end of every twelve months, and it’s hard to believe, but the former has already made their firm choice for 2018 – alongside a number of other honorable mentions. The word which has been chosen to define 2018 by Collins Dictionary is ‘single-use’, in light of widespread concern over plastic use during the past twelve months.
According to The Guardian, the dictionary defines single-use as ‘a term that describes items whose unchecked proliferation are blamed for damaging the environment and affecting the food chain’. Single-use plastics have been at the forefront of a number of campaigns this year, and moves such as those made by the European parliament to outright ban straws and bottles among other plastics are becoming more and more commonplace. For good reason, many will agree.
“Images of plastic adrift in the most distant oceans, such as straws, bottles and bags, have led to a global campaign to reduce their use,” Collins confirmed. “The word has seen a four-fold increase since 2013.”
▶ 'Single-use' word of the year
Collins’ lexicography team work hard throughout the year to look for trends and changes made in word usage – which leads them to create a shortlist of nominations for ‘word of the year’. While single-use has beaten all others to the punch for 2018, a number of rising terms from across the web and alternative media have also risen to the fore.
Gammon, used in context to define characteristics of ‘male, middle-aged and white’ people with ‘reactionary views’, has emerged as a popular word in British political discourse, particularly with regard to the UK’s impending departure from the European Union. MeToo, defined by Collins ‘denoting a cultural movement that seeks to expose and eradicate predatory sexual behavior, especially in the workplace’, also found its way onto the dictionary’s list of nominees.
Plogging – a word to describe joggers who pick up litter as they run – and flossing – defining the trademark dance from popular videogame Fortnite – were also on the list. Gaslighting, too, has also made an appearance – meaning to manipulate a person by way of enabling them to question their own thought processes and sanity.
The way we use words will always change and evolve – and it’s always interesting to see which get picked to best define years gone by.