- 14 Jan 21
The Whole Hog on "lockdown", "mukbang", "Karen", "humaning" and more.
A living language is always changing. But, where speed of change is concerned, some years take the biscuit. And as we discovered in 2020, there’s nothing like a global crisis to trigger invention!
Collins Dictionary named “lockdown” as its Word of the Year 2020, saying it added the term because it “encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people who have had to restrict their daily lives in order to contain the virus.”
So, what words and terms are you taking from 2020? Here’s a few to conjugate!
Coronavirus, Covid-secure, game-changer, heroes, infodemic, new normal, unprecedented (the pandemic wasn’t, but never mind), second wave, the R number, pivot, Zoom.
You still want to play?
Face covering (with or without a hyphen), working from home, hybrid schooling (see face covering), remote learning, home office, blended learning, “furlough”, “key worker”, “self-isolate” and “social distancing”. Oh, and “complete fuck-up”. But that’s not new, is it?
This too, we learned.
“Ramp up” has nothing to do with elevating a car to examine the exhaust nor with a walkway down which models parade. No, it’s something you do – and in particular Boris Johnson does (stop sniggering at the back) – with tests, with efforts, with production, with being a complete dick...
About the new wave of marketing speak – the use of “family” as a verb; the idea (if that is the right word) of “humaning”; or the promise of a “brand journey” – we will simply say “nowt”.
Others “Words and Phrases of the Year” include:
“Dystopian”/“Orwellian”; “We’re at war with a virus”; “Stay safe!”; “Stay safe and be well”; “Be well and stay safe!”; “[literally anything] in the time of Covid-19”; “In these uncertain times...” ; “Hoax”; “Conspiracy theory”; “QAnon”; “We’re all in this together”; “Now more than ever…”; “OK Boomer?”
Away from Covid-19, technology and social media generated a few too that might be considered new. Amid the dross, we do offer sneaking approbation to whoever invented “mukbang” from South Korea, which describes those who broadcast videos of themselves eating large quantities of food.
Finally, there’s Karen: A “Karen” is – apparently – used to refer to an entitled mum, who’s likely to want to talk to the manager. Drives a huge but eco SUV.
To which we can only say a very old word indeed: “Boooooo”. That’s certainly not the Karen we know!
- Read the full end-of-year The Whole Hog feature in the Hot Press Annual 2021 – out now: