The rise of the environmental movement has impacted the world in more ways than one with the term ‘single-use’ topping this year’s Collins Dictionary Word of the Year list.
Compiled by an experienced team of lexicographers, the list highlights the five most notable words that have intrigued people across the world over the past year and slipped into our everyday vocabulary.
While the top word may at first seem surprising, a look back at the year that was shows there has been a significant shift in the way people treat the environment, and a strong push to ban single-use plastics.
Before the world turned more environmentally friendly, the word single-use wasn’t commonly read or spoken in the English language. According to Collins Dictionary it only really became popular in 2013 when environmental issues and the harmful use of plastic bags began to make headlines.
The rest of the list followed a similar theme and featured words related to the environment, technology and politics.
Keeping with the environmental theme, the word plogging also made it to the top five. For those who are wondering what on earth plogging is, the 21st century word is derived from Scandinavia and describes the act of jogging while also picking up rubbish. It was formed from the Swedish word ploka which means to pick, and of course jogging.
Other notable words on list include floss, and this isn’t because people have become more conscious about the cleanliness of their teeth. Throughout 2018, it has been used to describe a style of dance in which people twist their hips in one direction while swinging their arms in the opposite direction.
Children and teenagers in particular have taken a particular liking to the word and dance, which became popular thanks to the video game Fortnite.
Then there is the word VAR, which is an abbreviation for video assistant referee. This word was actually written into the Laws of the Game by the International Football Association Board and was used in this year’s FIFA World Cup.
Rounding off the top five is the word gammon. In a traditional sense gammon is known as a ham or haunch of a pig. However, in 2018 it was commonly used as an insult and antidote to the word ‘snowflake’ often used to describe Millennials.
According to Collins, word was first coined by Charles Dickens in 1838, in Nicholas Nickleby. Dickens used the word gammon to describe a large, self-satisfied, middle aged man who professes an extreme patriotism in large part to disguise his essential selfishness and corruption.