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2020 in a word: “Lockdown”


Posted: Tuesday, November 10, 2020. 11:24 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: How would you describe 2020 in one word?

Many come to mind, not all pleasant, but the BBC says the Collins Dictionary has chosen one: “lockdown.”

Its dictionary definition: “the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces.” The dictionary says it “encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people,” with more than a quarter-million usages recorded compared to just 4,000 in 2019.

Governments around the world, including here in Belize, responded to the spread of COVID-19 by regulating movement to stop transmission of the virus.

Belize entered lockdown gradually starting in Ambergris Caye in late March after the first two cases were recorded there, then the Cayo District and ultimately the whole country in April.

Subsequently, a few villages and Ambergris Caye again were locked down in August after a resurgence of the virus. Presently, Bella Vista, Toledo, and Santa Cruz, Stann Creek, are locked down or, officially, under a state of emergency, including a curfew and strict opening and closing times for businesses.

Other COVID-19 related terms listed include “furlough”, “key worker”, “self-isolate” and “social distancing” as well as “coronavirus” itself.

Others on the list of ten include the abbreviation “BLM”, for the Black Lives Matter movement; “Megxit”, the term modeled on the word Brexit which was used for the withdrawal of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex from royal duties; “TikToker,” describing someone who shares content on platform TikTok and “mukbang”, a term originating in South Korea which describes a host who broadcasts videos of themselves eating large quantities of food.

Helen Newstead, language content consultant at Collins, said: “Language is a reflection of the world around us and 2020 has been dominated by the global pandemic. Lockdown has affected the way we work, study, shop, and socialize. With many countries entering a second lockdown, it is not a word of the year to celebrate but it is, perhaps, one that sums up the year for most of the world.”

The Oxford English Dictionary also choose their own word of the year, opting for “climate emergency” in 2019, “toxic” in 2018, “youthquake” in 2017, and “post-truth” in 2016.


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