Britain’s voters aren’t the only ones backing Brexit. The term — a fixture in headlines around the world throughout 2016 — has been named Word of the Year.
‘Brexit’ named word of the year; ‘Trumpism’ not far behind
- Brexit voted most visible word of 2016 by lexicographers at Collins Dictionary
- Trumpism, mic drop, JOMO and hygge also featured in the shortlist
(CNN)So it turns out Britain’s voters aren’t the only ones backing Brexit. The term — a fixture in headlines around the world throughout 2016 — has been named Word of the Year.Brexit — a portmanteau, blending “Britain” with “exit” — describes the UK’s impending departure from the European Union, in the wake of a controversial referendum on the issue in June.The team of lexicographers behind the Collins Dictionary say it is the most visible English term of the past year.“We believe that the obvious increased use of ‘Brexit’ (up 3,400% in 2016), its significant impact in British politics and Britain’s exit from the EU make it a word not only primed for history books but also as Collins’ Word of the Year,” the team said in a statement.The language experts looked at all English media — from newspapers, to radio and social media — to draw their conclusion.Brexit’s roots can be traced back to 2012, when economist Ebrahim Rahbari coined the term “Grexit” as a shorthand for “Greek exit,” referring to Greece’s potential withdrawal from the eurozone as a result of its economic crisis.But it is not the first time the world of politics has conjured up a word that took on a life of its own.
The new ‘Watergate’?Back in 1972, “Watergate” became part of the Oxford English Dictionary after a scandal that began with a burglary in the Washington Watergate Hotel led to the eventual resignation of President Nixon.The “-gate” suffix has since been used to denote scandals from ‘winegate’ (chemicals used to transform vinegar into fake wine) to ‘horsegate‘ (frozen lasagnas containing horse meat) and ‘bridgegate‘.Helen Newstead, head of language content at Collins, believes Brexit will soon overthrow Watergate.“Brexit’ is arguably politics’ most important contribution to the English language in over 40 years, since the Watergate scandal … [and] ‘Brexit’ is proving even more useful and adaptable,” she said.Some of the new words created from Brexit include “brexiteers” — those who voted for the UK to leave the EU — and “bremorse” — the feeling of regret experienced by those who chose to leave, and then changed their mind.
‘Mic drop,’ ‘hygge’ contendersBesides Brexit, the team at Collins shortlisted other nine words as strong contenders for the top prize.“Trumpism” — a controversial statement attributed to US presidential contender Donald Trump — was one of the most popular.“Depending on your point of view, [Trumpism] can be held up either as evidence of the man’s ability to make America great again or else as proof of his unfitness to hold the highest political office,” explained the Collins’ team.“Mic drop” — “a theatrical 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” — as demonstrated by US President Barack Obama at a recent dinner also made the list.Other top terms included “throw shade,” “hygge” — the Danish concept of “creating cosy and convivial atmospheres that promote wellbeing” and “snowflake generation” — new young adults who are seen as less resilient than previous generations.