In Depth

Single-use named as word of the year by Collins Dictionary

‘Gammon’, ‘Gaslight’, ‘Backstop’ and ‘MeToo’ all make the annual list as well

Growing concerns about the environment in the English-speaking world has prompted “single-use” to be chosen as Collins Dictionary’s word of the year for 2018.

The adjective applied to disposable plastic products has been named the dictionary’s 2018 word of the year with the company’s lexicographers saying use of the term has risen fourfold since 2013, as pollution climbs the political agenda.

Single-use “encompasses a global movement to kick our addiction to disposable products. From plastic bags, bottles and straws to washable nappies, we have become more conscious of how our habits and behaviours can impact the environment,” said Collins.

The experts “have created an annual list of new and notable words”, says ITV News. Among the other terms to make the list are a couple that should be familiar to followers of British politics.

“Backstop” has been included, being described as a legal guarantee about the Irish border after Brexit while “gammon” is “a derogatory British term for an angry pink-faced person sometimes used against supporters of leaving the European Union”, says The Washington Post.

“Gaslight” also makes the list meaning to manipulate others, often romantic partners, by leading them to question their sanity. “Whitewash” in regards to the casting of white actors as characters from ethnic minority backgrounds in films and “MeToo” are also words of the year, with Collins saying the latter had become part of the language, thanks to phrases such as “the MeToo era” and “MeToo moment”.

Helen Newstead, Head of Language Content at Collins, said: “This has been a year where awareness and often anger over a variety of issues has led to the rise of new words and the revitalisation and adaptation of old ones.

“It’s clear from this year’s Words of the Year list that changes to our language are dictated as much by public concern as they are by sport, politics, and playground fads.”

One more lighthearted word on the list is “plogging”, a Swedish activity “that combines litter-picking while running it merges the words ‘jogging’ and ‘plocka’, Swedish for ‘to pick’”, says the Daily Telegraph.

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