Just like fashions, popular expressions come and go and 2017’s word of the year – or, being pedantic, words of the year – has just been announced as ‘fake news’. Popularised by the US President Donald Trump who accused it of influencing elections, fake news is defined as ‘false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting’. The phrase has risen by 365 percent since 2016 and its number one spot means it will be included in the next print edition of Collins Dictionary.
Other new additions to the website include ‘Insta’ – to describe things relating to Instagram – and ‘fidget spinner’, the latest toy craze in school playgrounds around the country. Reading the list of runners-up gives us a flavour of the topics preoccupying us this year:
- Corbynmania – fanatical enthusiasm for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
- Echo chamber – an environment, particularly on social media, where any statement is greeted with approval because it is read only by those with similar views.
- Gig economy – one in which most jobs are temporary and irregular.
- Gender-fluid – not identifying with any one gender such as male or female.
- Cuffing season – a new one to me, this is apparently the time in autumn and winter when singles tend to seek longer term relationships rather than quick flings.
Words on their way out…
However, to make way for new arrivals the dictionary has to be cleared out every so often too. A vast study of conversational English conducted by Lancaster University and Cambridge University Press has already captured five million words and aims to gather 11 million by the time the project ends this autumn.
Researchers gave The Times newspaper a sneak preview, revealing the 15 words that had most declined in popularity since the 1990s and the 15 that had gained most ground. You won’t be surprised to learn ‘email’, ‘internet’, ‘website’ and ‘Google’ are all among the high risers. In fact, 11 of the top 15 words all relate to digital technology. Other new words include ‘twenty-four’ – referring to 24 hours a day or 24/7 – ‘massively’ and ‘yoga’. Conversely, ‘cobbler’, ‘permed’ and ‘cassette’ are among the words falling out of favour.
Here are the words on the up and those soon to be consigned to history:
|On the up||Fading fast|
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