Permacrisis, partygate and Carolean named words of the year for 2022

Partygate and Carolean also make Collins Dictionary's list of 10 words of the year

The death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, has rung in the Carolean era, or the reign of Britain's King Charles III, another of the words of the year.  AFP
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After a period of war, inflation, climate change and political instability, Collins Dictionary has named "permacrisis" as its word of the year.

Defined as "an extended period of instability and insecurity", the word is one of the several terms on the 2022 list that has become increasingly used because of the crises in the UK and around the world.

The word as it "sums up quite succinctly just how truly awful 2022 has been for so many people", said Collins.

Six words on Collins' list of 10 words of the year are new to, including "permacrisis", despite being first noted in academic contexts from the 1970s.

Another word on the list, which has contributed to the feeling of "permacrisis", is "partygate", referring to the scandal over social gatherings held in Downing Street during strict Covid restrictions.

"Kyiv" has also been added after the city became a symbol of Ukraine's stand against Russian aggression as well as "warm bank", which describes a heated building such as a library or place of worship where people who cannot afford to heat their own homes may go.

The personal effect of the crises has also influenced the list with the addition of "quiet quitting" — the act of doing one's basic duties at work and no more, by way of protest or to improve work-life balance.

Then there is "vibe shift", which relates to a "significant change in the prevailing atmosphere or culture".

The historic moment of the queen's death in September has also been marked, as "Carolean" is added to the lexicon, signifying the end of the second Elizabethan era and the start of the reign of King Charles.

"Lawfare", which is the strategic use of law to intimidate or hinder an opponent, is also included, as is the more unusual term "splooting", relating to animals stretching themselves out in order to cool down — a phenomenon seen frequently during this summer's intense heat.

Rounding off the list is "sportswashing", a word for how organisations or countries use sports promotion to enhance reputations or distract from controversial activities or policies.

"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," said Alex Beecroft, managing director of Collins Learning.

"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."

The lexicographers at Collins Dictionary monitor their 18 billion-word database and a range of media sources, including social media, to create the annual list of new and notable words that reflect our ever-evolving language and the preoccupations of those who use it.

Last year's word of the year was "NFT", short for non-fungible token, which entered the mainstream after millions were spent on the most sought-after digital images and videos.

Updated: November 01, 2022, 1:28 AM