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2019 words of the year

Again this year, dictionaries chose the words most talked about, thought about, or worried about to be the words of the year for 2019.


Merriam-Webster chose they as its word of the year. As explained, “It reflects a surprising fact: even a basic term — a personal pronoun — can rise to the top of our data. Although our lookups are often driven by events in the news, the dictionary is also a primary resource for information about language itself, and the shifting use of they has been the subject of increasing study and commentary in recent years. Lookups for they increased by 313 percent in 2019 over the previous year.”

Oxford Dictionary

Oxford Dictionary chose climate emergency as their word for 2019. The company noted: “This year, heightened public awareness of climate science and the myriad implications for communities around the world has generated enormous discussion of what the UN secretary-general has called ‘the defining issue of our time.’ But it is not just this upsurge in conversation that has caught our attention. Our research reveals a demonstrable escalation in the language people are using to articulate information and ideas concerning the climate. This is most clearly encapsulated by the rise of climate emergency in 2019.” picked existential as their word for 2019. “We define the adjective existential in two senses. The first is ‘of or relating to existence.’ Entering English in the late 1600s, this existential is often used when the fact of someone or something’s being — its very existence — is at stake. Our second sense of existential is ‘concerned with the nature of human existence as determined by the individual’s freely made choices.’ This existential is related to existentialism, a philosophy that affirms our individual agency in making meaningful, authentic choices about our lives,” said representatives for the company.

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