What do binge-watch, Brexit, and photobomb all have in common? They’ve all been named word of the year by the Collins English Dictionary. Binge-watch in 2015, Brexit in 2016, and photobomb in 2014.
William Collins created The Collins English Dictionary almost 200 years ago with a dream of “knowledge for all.” This dictionary now contains over 4.5 billion words and is regularly updated to include topical terms.
The Collins English Dictionary has announced a word of the year list since 2013. Each pick represents the political or social climate of the year. The list includes:
- 2013 – geek
- 2014 – photobomb
- 2015 – binge-watch
- 2016 – Brexit
- 2017 – fake news
- 2018 – single-use
- 2019 – climate strike
- 2020 – lockdown
- 2021 – NFT
Permacrisis was recently named the word of the year in 2022. Read on to learn more about this pick and the other words that made the shortlist for 2022.
Word of the Year 2022
The Collins English Dictionary defines permacrisis as “an extended period of instability and insecurity.”
Collins added permacrisis to its dictionary this year to represent the compounding crises we’ve seen in 2022, including inflation, the cost-of-living crisis, the ongoing pandemic, climate change, and the war in Ukraine.
This word accurately represents the ongoing dread many of us feel when we open social media. It seems like there is always something chaotic happening in the world, and it can be a challenge to feel hope when we don’t know what the next news cycle will bring.
5 Words on the Shortlist
Permacrisis is one of 10 words Collins selected to represent 2022. Let’s focus on a few of these to get a sense of why they were chosen.
#1. Partygate – a political scandal over social gatherings held in British government offices during 2020 and 2021 in defiance of the public-health restrictions that prevailed at the time
Since Collins is a British English dictionary, many words of the year reflect UK political events. But the partygate scandal sent shockwaves worldwide when it contributed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation.
#2. Vibe shift – a significant change in a prevailing cultural atmosphere or trend
There’s been a vibe shift in the way society operates in the post-pandemic world. There seems to be a greater focus on work-life balance over the past few years. Maybe you’ve noticed this change in your own life, too.
#3. Quiet quitting – the practice of doing little or no work while being present at one’s place of employment
Quiet quitting goes hand-in-hand with the vibe shift we’re experiencing. Millennials seem to be getting burnt out at work and want to focus on other things they love.
#4. Carolean – of or relating to Charles III of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or his reign
This is another British-centric word representing an important cultural moment in 2022. When Queen Elizabeth II passed away and King Charles III assumed the throne, the UK entered a new Carolean period.
#5. Splooting – the act of lying flat on the stomach with the legs stretched out
You’ve probably seen a cat or dog splooting before, even if you’re unfamiliar with this word. Squirrels in NYC joined in on this pose to beat the summer heat. Try it out for yourself if all of the other words on this year’s list seem too overwhelming.
Additional Words of the Year
Collins is usually the first dictionary to announce its word of the year, but many other dictionaries participate in the annual tradition. Merriam-Webster picked “vaccine” for 2021 and Oxford selected “unprecedented” for 2020.
Words of the year are an interesting snapshot of the current climate. Looking back at these words can help you remember what was happening during that specific year. Only time will tell what the word of the year will be in 2023, but let’s hope it’s a little more optimistic than permacrisis.
Want to read other interesting language stories? Discover the etymology of cappuccinos or learn about a new study on mushroom communication on the ALTA Beyond Words Blog.
Stephanie Brown is a New York City-based travel blogger and freelance content creator.
You can find her at The Adventuring Millennial.