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Wednesday 22 January 2020

Words that dominated news in 2018: Toxic, misinformation, nomophobia

'Toxic' is the Oxford word of the year 2018. Merriam-Webster chose 'justice' as the word of the year. 'Single-use', a term that describes items whose unchecked proliferation are blamed for damaging the environment and affecting the food chain, was named Collins' word of the year 2018

New Delhi: Terms such as toxic, misinformation, nomophobia, single-use and justice remained in focus in 2018 and have been adjudged top words of the year by dictionaries.

‘Toxic’ is the Oxford word of the year 2018.

In 2018, toxic added many strings to its poisoned bow becoming an intoxicating descriptor for the year’s most talked-about topics. It is the sheer scope of its application, as found by our research, that made toxic’ the stand-out choice for the word of the year title, Oxford Dictionary said.

Along with a 45% rise in the number of times, it has been looked up on oxforddictionaries.com, over the last year the word toxic has been used in an array of contexts, both in its literal and more metaphorical senses, it said.

Merriam-Webster chose ‘justice’ as the word of the year. It was a top lookup throughout the year at Merriam-Webster.com, with the entry being consulted 74 per cent more than in 2017, it said.

The concept of justice was at the centre of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice. In any conversation about these topics, the question of just what exactly we mean when we use the term justice is relevant, and part of the discussion, the dictionary said.

Justice has varied meanings that do a lot of work in the language – meanings that range from the technical and legal to the lofty and philosophical. For many reasons and for many meanings, one thing’s for sure: justice has been on the minds of many people in 2018, it said.

‘Single-use’, a term that describes items whose unchecked proliferation are blamed for damaging the environment and affecting the food chain, was named Collins’ word of the year 2018.

Single-use refers to products – often plastic – that are made to be used once only’ before disposal. Images of plastic adrift in the most distant oceans, such as straws, bottles, and bags have led to a global campaign to reduce their use.

According to Collins Dictionary, the word has seen a four-fold increase since 2013.

Dictionary.com announced misinformation’ as its top word.

The rampant spread of misinformation poses new challenges for navigating life in 2018. As a dictionary, we believe understanding the concept is vital to identifying misinformation in the wild, and ultimately curbing its impact, it said.

But what does misinformation mean? Dictionary.com defines it as false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.

Nomophobia’, defined as “fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it”, was chosen as the word of the year by Cambridge Dictionary.

Global Language Monitor (GLM), which tracks top trending words, named The Moment’ its top word of 2018. It also announced weaponize’ as the top word of the year for the US alone.

This is the first time GLM’s analysis has determined two top words of the year. This is because of the disparity between English-language usage between the US and the rest of the world especially in the language of politics, says Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst at GLM.

Today, The Moment’ represents a larger than life experience, the convergence of, perhaps, fame, fortune, and happenstance representing a time of excellence or conspicuousness. More importantly, it can be seen as where we now stand in the evolution of the flow of information, he says.

The term The Moment’ defines a unique confluence of social and media forces where a person is elevated to a perceived pre-eminent position in their fields, situations, or positions. For example, Meghan Markle had her moment’ with her royal wedding to Prince Harry earlier in 2018, says Payack.

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