Familiar political phrases including Brexit, snowflake, mic-drop, and Trumpism have been entered into the Collins English Dictionary as part of their annual acceptance of neologisms — or newly minted words and phrases.
Brexit took the position of the Collins Dictionary word of the year, noted not only for the remarkable frequency with which it is used, but also its flexibility. Britain’s Times newspaper reports it has been the most influential political word since the emergence of the Watergate scandal, which left all forms of political mishaps and embarrassments labelled with the ubiquitous suffix ‘-gate’.
A spokesman for the dictionary said the word was “inspiring a lot of wordplay around ending and separations”. As well as domestic plays like ‘Bremain’ and ‘Bremorse’, the phrase has also set the style for European freedom movements, with names like ‘Frexit’ for France and ‘Nexit’ for the Netherlands.
The dictionary reports the first usage of Brexit was 2013, with a 3,400 per cent jump in usage just this year — meaning it has been a long road to acceptance by the dictionary establishment for the term.
Enjoying a more direct trajectory is the phrase Trumpism, also accepted into the dictionary this year. Remarking on the inclusion, the spokesman said: “Trump is not the first politician to have had his name co-opted by language: ‘Thatcherism’ and ‘Reaganomics’, for example”.
The Collins dictionary deletes thousands of old words no longer in common use, with familiar if archaic terms such as aerodrome (airport) and Charabanc (a kind of coach) relegated to obsolete status. Yet the concept of Trumpism may join them if his legacy does not endure, with the dictionary remarking: “The longevity of ‘Trumpism’ as a word may depend on his success in the forthcoming election.”
Other new arrivals include ‘snowflake generation’, pertaining to the hypersensitive, easily offended young people driving much of the West’s obsession with social justice and hate speech legislation, a Danish loan word meaning a cozy and happy environment — hygge — and mic-drop, as practiced by President Barrack Obama.
The words join other neologisms in the Collins English Dictionary including, as reported in 2015, Manspreading, Transgender, and ‘Shaming’.
While some of the words — such as contactless and dadbod — seem to be staying with us, others including ‘Corbynomics’ seem to have vanished as quickly as they were coined.