Language is a constantly changing and evolving thing, to reflect the constant changes of the world around us. With that in mind, every year the creator of the dictionary, Collins, announces a new word of the year. The word is chosen specifically to reflect what has been happening during that year.
One main word of the year is chosen, along with nine other key words of the year which are also noted for their significance. So, just what are the 2022 Collins dictionary words of the year and what do they mean? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is the 2022 Collins dictionary word of the year?
Collins has announced that 2022’s Word of the Year is permacrisis, which is defined as “an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events.”
The dictionary said it chose the word because it “sums up quite succinctly just how truly awful 2022 has been for so many people”, taking in to account the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the ongoing political uncertainty, the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis.
Of the 10 words of the year on Collins’ list, six are new to the Collins dictionary website, with one of those being permacrisis. The term was first noted, however, in academic contexts from the 1970s.
What are the other 2022 Collins dictionary words of the year, and what do they mean?
Another word which is one of this year’s Collins dictionary words of the year is partygate, which Collins states is “a political scandal over social gatherings held in British government offices during 2020 and 2021 in defiance of the public-health restrictions that prevailed at the time”. Of course this refers to the revelation that government ministers, including then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, held social gatherings despite the British public being banned from doing so at that time due to Covid-19 lockdown rules.
Kyiv has also been added after the city and capital of Ukraine became a symbol of the country’s stand against Russian aggression. Another word which has also appeared on the list due to the war is lawfare, defined as “the strategic use of legal proceedings to intimidate or hinder an opponent.”
A more fun word which is part of the list is splooting, which is “the act of lying flat on the stomach with the legs stretched out.” This pose was frequently used by humans and animals alike during the unprecedented heatwaves experienced during summer 2022 as everyone attempted to cool down when temperatures soared to a record high of 40C.
Further demonstrating how 2022 has been a year of extremes, warm bank has also made the list. This is “a heated building where people who cannot afford to heat their own homes may go”. It reflects that, as temperatures now drop during autumn/winter 2022, many people can now not afford to put their heating on due to the huge increases in gas and electricity prices.
From a historical perspective, 2022 will always be remembered as the year that Queen Elizabeth II died after a 70 year reign as monarch and her eldest son Charles III became King. The word Carolean, which signifies the end of the second Elizabethan era and the beginning of King Charles III’s reign, has therefore been named as a word of the year.
The impact of these various changes and crises on individuals can be seen in two of the other words chosen. The first is quiet quitting, which refers to “the practice of doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do at work, especially in order to spend more time on personal activities.” The second is vibe shift, which is “a significant change in a prevailing cultural atmosphere or trend”. People have become more focused on spending quality - and free - time with their loved ones due to the financial troubles.
The final word of the year is sportswashing, which Collins has defined as “the sponsorship or promotion of sporting events in order to enhance a tarnished reputation or distract attention from a controversial activity”. The word has increased in use during the year thanks to the upcoming Fifa World Cup in Qatar and the concerns regarding human rights that have been raised.
What has Collins said about the words of the year?
Collins Dictionary said the words they have chosen for the 2022 words of the year reflect what is currently happening in the world around us. Alex Beecroft, managing director of Collins Learning, said: “Language can be a mirror to what is going on in society and the wider world and this year has thrown up challenge after challenge.
“It is understandable that people may feel, after living through upheaval caused by Brexit, the pandemic, severe weather, the war in Ukraine, political instability, the energy squeeze and the cost-of-living crisis, that we are living in an ongoing state of uncertainty and worry; ‘permacrisis’ sums up quite succinctly just how truly awful 2022 has been for many people.
“Our list this year reflects the state of the world right now - not much good news, although, with the determination of the Ukrainian people reflected by the inclusion of ‘Kyiv’, and the dawn of the new ‘Carolean’ age in the UK, there are rays of hope.”