2021: what a year – and what better way to round it up than with a list of notable words that epitomised the past 12 months? From “crypto” to “cheugy” and “neopronoun”, Collins Dictionary experts have released the top ten words from the year.
The 2020 Word Of The Year – “lockdown” (urgh) – has been replaced in the top spot this year by “NFT”, the acronym that has been sweeping social media for the past 12 months. The newly crowned 2021 Collins Dictionary’s Word Of The Year saw a staggering increased usage of 11,000 per cent.
For the blissfully unaware, a “non-fungible token” (NFT) describes the unique digital identifier that records ownership of a digital asset. Any digital creation – including a picture, a video, a piece of music or even a tweet – can become an NFT, with the most valuable selling for £50.3 million at a Christie’s auction in March.
Alex Beecroft, from MD Collins Learning, said: “It’s unusual for an abbreviation to experience such a meteoric rise in usage, but the data we have from the Collins Corpus reflects the remarkable ascendancy of the NFT in 2021.
“NFTs seem to be everywhere, from the arts sections to the financial pages and in galleries and auction houses and across social media platforms. Whether the NFT will have a lasting influence is yet to be determined, but its sudden presence in conversations around the world makes it very clearly our Word Of The Year.
“Its unique technicolour collision of art, technology and commerce has broken through the Covid noise with dramatic effect.”
Unsurprisingly, “crypto” (short for cryptocurrency), and “metaverse” (Mark Zuckerberg’s new three-dimensional virtual world) were among the other tech terms in the top ten.
“Neopronoun”, “Regencycore”, and “cheugy” also made an appearance on the list.
Conversations over gender and the representation of trans and non-binary people has led to a rise in usage of “neopronouns”, while the new colloquial term “cheugy” – created by Gen-Zers to describe millennial things that they declare outdated and unfashionable – also made one of the top spots. Bridgerton clearly had influence over fans and the fashion world in 2021 after “Regencycore” entered the top ten.
Meanwhile, the ongoing pandemic birthed three terms. “Pingdemic” was up there – a term to describe the NHS app alerts to self-isolate – along with “hybrid working”, which denotes the mixture of and working from home and from the office or workplace. The word “double-vaxxed” is pretty much what it says on the tin.
“Climate anxiety” also made the Collins cut, which describes people’s growing concerns about climate change and the perceived lack of action to tackle it.