It’s safe to say that the coronavirus pandemic will define 2020.
Indeed, Collins Dictionary has even named “lockdown” its word of the year.
Collins described “lockdown” as “the containment measure implemented by governments around the world to mitigate the spread of COVID-19” in a blog post on Tuesday. Its dictionary entry for the noun defines it as “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction and access to public spaces.” Look familiar?
And while several other pandemic-related terms made the short list for “Word of the Year,” Collins lexicographers explained in a blog post that “lockdown” took the top spot because “it is a unifying experience for billions of people across the world, who have had, collectively, to play their part in combating the spread of COVID-19.”
What’s more, Collins registered more than a quarter of a million usages of “lockdown” in 2020, compared to just 4,000 last year.
Indeed, these measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has infected at least 50.9 million and counting across the globe and killed at least 1.3 million, have impacted just about every aspect of life this year. In the U.S., the temporary closures of non-essential businesses and services in the spring to contain the virus has seen tens of millions of Americans lose their jobs. While economy is recovering, about 10 million of the 22 million jobs that were lost early in the pandemic still haven’t been recovered, and many businesses, particularly in the restaurant, retail and service industry, have closed for good.
And the lockdowns aren’t over yet.
The autumnal surge in COVID-19 cases in parts of Europe has led to renewed shutdown measures in England, France and Germany, while Italy and Spain have brought back curfews and other restrictions that fall short of “lockdown” per se. The U.S. has also seen a spike in infections, with another 130,553 cases counted on Monday, according to a New York Times tracker.
The short list for Collins “Word of the Year” also included: Coronavirus; BLM (the abbreviation for the Black Lives Matter movement); key worker (also known as an essential worker); furlough; self isolate and social distancing.