Trying to sum up an entire year in one word (or term) isn’t easy. As you know, my guiding words are forward-thinking (though I did do a retrospective). By contrast, the words of the year chosen by major dictionaries look back at the year that was. What can we say about 2018? What mattered most? Here’s what they had to say.
Oxford Dictionaries: Toxic
While normally used in a similar context as poisonous and venomous, “toxic” was perhaps more connected to a cultural context in 2018. That’s partly why Oxford chose it as the word of the year. In addition to discussions of toxic chemical stockpiles, toxic waste, and toxic gases, a lot was said about toxic masculinity too. This relates to the #MeToo movement, of course, as well as toxic relationships and toxic working environments.
YourDictionary: Deep State
In the interest of full disclosure, I freelance with YourDictionary. As you might already know, I’ve been working with LoveToKnow for a great number of years, and YourDictionary is one of their other web properties. I shifted over recently from the LTK side of things to the YD side of things.
As part of my work with this project, I edited an article on examples of the deep state (both in the US and abroad). I also contributed several examples of “deep state” as used in a sentence and in quotes.
Unsurprisingly, other words of the year also focused heavily on the the Trump administration and the political situation in the United States. In the case of Dictionary.com, they went with “misinformation” as their word of the year.
You know that phenomenon where if you hear something often enough, you start to believe that it’s true? The sense of collective ignorance and the concept of “fake news” have certainly gained prominence in the last couple years. Just because you read about it on the Internet, just because your friend posted it on Facebook, doesn’t mean that it’s true.
Merriam-Webster notes that lookups for the word “justice,” their word of the year for 2018, increased by 74 percent year-over-year compared to 2017. Between the ongoing investigations in Washington, and the rise of the so-called “social justice warrior,” justice “has been on the minds of many people in 2018.”
I’d argue that some of the other top lookups for 2018 are a bit more interesting, including pansexual, feckless, pissant, and excelsior.
Your Words of the Year
Words, words, words. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s also true that the right word can paint a thousand pictures. Looking back at 2018, what do you think of these words of the year? Do they encapsulate the year that was? If you had to sum up your year in just a single word, what would it be?