Brexit was on Thursday named word the year by Collins dictionary citing “unprecedented surge” in its use, beating tough competition from Trumpism.
Britain’s referendum in favour of an exit from the European Union (EU) was not only the most important political development but also resulted in the word Brexit becoming one of the most used terms of the year, according to Collins dictionary.
The publisher said that Brexit saw its first recorded usage in 2013 but has since increased in use by more than 3,400% this year as the referendum approached in June, and as the ramifications have played out since.
Collins described this massive increase as “unheard of” since it began monitoring word usage.
“Brexit is arguably politics’ most important contribution to the English language in over 40 years, since the Watergate scandal gave commentators and comedians the suffix ‘-gate’ to make any incident or scandal infinitely more compelling,” said Helen Newstead, Collins head of language content.
And while politicians may still be grappling with Brexit, Collins defines it simply as “the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union”.
Trumpism was another popular word of the year, in reference to policies advocated by US presidential candidate Donald Trump.
The list of final contenders for the top spot, which will appear in Collinsdictionary.com, include “snowflake generation”, which it defines as “the young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offence than previous generations”; the Danish concept of “hygge”, or “creating cosy and convivial atmospheres that promote wellbeing”; and “dude food”, or “junk food such as hot dogs and burgers which are considered particularly appealing to men”.
Lexicographers also noted a large increase in the usage of “mic drop”, a gesture in which a person drops (or imitates the action of dropping) a hand-held microphone to the ground as the finale to a speech or performance.