“Climate strike” has been named Collins’ word of the year, saying its lexicographers observed a one-hundred-fold increase in its usage in 2019.
“Climate strike”, a form of protest that took off just over one year ago with the actions of Swedish schoolgirl Greta Thunberg and which has grown to become a worldwide movement, has been named Collins’ Word of the Year 2019.
‘Climate strike’ was first registered in November 2015 when the first event to be so named took place to coincide with the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, but it is over the last year that ‘climate strikes’ have spread and become a frequent reality in many of the world’s largest cities.
Collins’ lexicographers observed a one-hundred-fold increase in its usage in 2019.
This was the year Greta Thunberg became a superstar, spreading her call for climate action around the world
The word has seen a four-fold increase since 2013, with news stories and images such as those seen in the BBC’s Blue Planet II steeply raising public awareness of the issue.
“This was the year Greta Thunberg became a superstar, “ the dictionary publisher said, “spreading her call for climate action around the world – whether through appearances at international gatherings, or by popularising the tactic of striking to draw attention to the cause.
“For her that meant missing classes, under the slogan skolstrejk för klimatet (Swedish for “school strike for the climate”). For others it meant stopping work – with an estimated 6 million people, young and old, participating in September’s global climate strike.
“The first event to be called a ‘climate strike’ had nothing to do with Greta, though: it happened in November 2015, outside the Paris climate summit, when she was just 12.”
These are “strange, anxiety-inducing times” – but there are reasons to be cheerful. That’s what the English language seems to be telling us in 2019, according to Collins.
Having trawled websites, newspapers, magazines, social media, and everyday conversations, Collins’ lexicographers have detected an uptick in words linked to both environmental and “digital derangement” – as well as ones linked to fighting back.
From the Word of the Year itself, “climate strike”, which embodies a “positive response” to a grave crisis, to “hopepunk”, an upbeat genre of storytelling, “it seems that there’s cause for optimism in dark times”, Collin’ says.
This year’s shortlist
- bopo (ˈbəʊpəʊ) noun also spelt BoPo: a movement advocating the view that people should be proud of the appearance of their bodies, or any aspect of this, especially size
- cancel (ˈkænsəl) verb: to publicly cease to acknowledge a person, organization, etc, esp on social media, in order to express disapproval of their activities or opinions
- deepfake (ˈdiːpˌfeɪk) noun, verb: (noun) a technique by which a digital image or video can be superimposed onto another, which maintains the appearance of an unedited image or video; (verb) to superimpose one digital image or video onto another so that it maintains the appearance of an unedited image or video
- double down (ˈdʌbəl daʊn) phrasal verb: to reinforce one’s commitment to a venture or idea in spite of opposition or risk
- entryist (ˈɛntrɪɪst) noun, adjective: (noun) a person who joins an existing political party with the intention of changing its principles and policies; (adjective) relating to the practice of joining an existing political party with the intention of changing its principles and policies
- hopepunk (ˈhəʊpˌpʌŋk) noun: a literary and artistic movement that celebrates the pursuit of positive aims in the face of adversity
- influencer (ˈɪnflʊənsə) noun: a person who uses social media to promote lifestyle choices, commercial products, etc to his or her followers
- nonbinary (ˌnɒnˈbaɪnərɪ) adjective. Also spelt non-binary: relating to a gender or sexual identity that does not conform to the binary categories of male or female, heterosexual or homosexual
- rewilding (riːˈwaɪldɪŋ) noun: the practice of returning areas of land to a wild state, including the reintroduction of animal species that are no longer naturally found there.