In 2019, there were just 4,000 recorded instances in which the word "lockdown" was used, according to the Collins Dictionary. Of course, we had no idea what was coming. This year, there were more than 250,000 uses for a 6,000% increase, Collins says. It was enough to crown "lockdown"—meaning "the imposition of stringent restrictions on travel, social interaction, and access to public spaces"—as the dictionary's word of the year for 2020, reports the Guardian. "It encapsulates the shared experience of billions of people who have had to restrict their daily lives in order to contain the virus," explains Collins language content consultant Helen Newstead, who points out that many countries are now "entering a second lockdown."
Other pandemic-related terms—"coronavirus," "social distancing," "self-isolate," "key worker," and "furlough"—made Collins' list of the top 10 words for 2020. "BLM," the abbreviation for the Black Lives Matter movement, also made the list with a 581% increase in usage from 2019. Rounding out the list are "TikToker," meaning a user of TikTok; "mukbang," described as videos showing people eating large amounts of food; and "Megxit," referring to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's withdrawal from royal duties. Megxit shows "just how firmly established [the term Brexit] now is in our lexicon," says Newstead. Brexit was Collins' word of the year in 2016, per the BBC. Last year's term was "climate strike." (Read more Word of the Year stories.)