2019 has been a rough year. Don’t believe us? Take a look at all the Words of the Year as determined by the different dictionaries of the world.
Abandoning buzzwords and memes and weird slang that made no sense until everyone started using it (we’re looking at you, “bomboclaat”), it seems that the dictionaries collectively decided to make a statement this year in choosing that one word that would encapsulate all that happened in 2019 and what is to come in 2020. Suddenly, the Word of the Year announcements became a platform to remind people that we are about to be thrown into the throes of change and we need to do something about it.
Merriam-Webster was the first to release its 2019 Word: the nonbinary pronoun “They” which was officially added to its dictionary in September to give representation to gender-nonconfirming individuals.
The word ‘they’
– was looked up 313% more this year than last.
– had a new sense added in September.
– is increasingly common in both public and personal communication.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) December 10, 2019
Dictionary.com went with “Existential,” inspired by the topics that dominated headlines and online conversations: climate change, gun violence, and democratic institutions. According to them, the word “captures a sense of grappling with the survival—literally and figuratively—of our planet, our loved ones, our ways of life” and “inspires us to ask big questions about who we are and what our purpose is in the face of our various challenges—and it reminds us that we can make choices about our lives in how we answer those questions.”
There’s something rather existential about the 2019 #WordOfTheYear.
— Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) December 2, 2019
Meanwhile, Oxford Dictionary chose the phrase “Climate Emergency” after discovering the rapid increase of usage of the term throughout the year as it has become the most “defining issue of our time.”
The Oxford Word of the Year is … CLIMATE EMERGENCY.
‘Climate emergency’ is defined as ‘a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it.’https://t.co/JLepdcgt0U pic.twitter.com/UKJqpa2KAJ
— Oxford Languages (@OxLanguages) November 20, 2019
Collins Dictionary chose a similar phrase: “Climate Strike,” inspired by the transcendental actions of Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg.
BREAKING NEWS The Collins Word of the Year is… climate strike. See the full shortlist and find out more about the #WordoftheYear here: https://t.co/NrB3l03ODf#CollinsWOTY #CollinsDictionary #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/qwx50z9VZm
— Collins Dictionary (@CollinsDict) November 7, 2019
Lastly, Cambridge declared “Upcycling” their Word of the Year, which they describe as the “concrete action a single human being can take to make a difference” in a world that seems to no longer be able to stop the progression of the climate crisis. It was also inspired by the youth activism of Greta Thunberg, the growing trends of vegan and plant-based diets, and sustainable fashion.
— Cambridge University (@Cambridge_Uni) November 5, 2019
If there’s anything these words prove, it’s that we are in no position to idly watch the world get worse by the day anymore. It’s time to fight back and rally for the change that we need… because no one else will do it but us.
What do you think about these words of the year?
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