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Word of the Year Is Half-Greek

Collins English Dictionary Half-Greek Word of the Year
Collins English Dictionary’s Word of the Year Is Half-Greek.  credit: Tim Ellis / Flickr CC-BY-NC 2.0

Each year, Collins English Dictionary chooses ten words or phrases to define a specific period. This year’s top word is half-Greek.

Well, it’s 2022, so there is a new term that has now been picked that describes the feeling of permanent anxiety and world-weariness (German: Weltschmerzen) from which so many currently suffer. The fatigue caused by the constant influx of horrific events has definitely left its mark on the masses and the new expression, which is half-Greek.

A word for a year of social, economic, and political insecurity

It seems telling of today’s troubles that the only word we can come up with to describe humanity’s current general sentiment is so negative. This is natural, however, when one takes into account the disasters people in so many countries have suffered. There is no need to go over them again. 

The fact is that the extended period of recent instability and insecurity has changed much and not in a good way at all. This is reflected in the language we use and the creation of new words like ‘quiet-quitting,’ a brilliant expression coined by a young woman fed up with the lack of recognition her job was giving her. ‘Vibe-shift’ is another term that sums up the Zeitgeist of today so very well.

As mentioned, every 365 days, Collins English Dictionary chooses ten or so words and phrases that they believe best sum up humanity’s mood at a given moment and the changes these have caused as evidenced in the way we think and live. This year was no different. So which words got on the list and what specific one made it to the top?

Half-Greek term ‘Permacrisis’ Collins’ word of the year

At the top of Collins’ venerable list is the half-Greek word permacrisis, meaning “an extended period of instability and insecurity, especially one resulting from a series of catastrophic events.” It is, of course, a very clear, concise, and insightful as well as apt description.

Yet, it is also disturbing—not the word itself but rather the haunting sentiment behind it. First, this is because of the implication that it is permanent. Yes, that is what we feel at this time, but we all very well know that nothing lasts forever.

The same goes with ‘crisis,’ which originates from the Greek word krísis (κρίσις). Crises are, of course, always a bleak thing. Just look at the synonyms for crisis: disaster, catastrophe, and calamity among others.

Equally revealing is the fact that the other remaining words and phrases on the 2022 list by Collins English Dictionary also hint at the same deep sorrow and lingering sadness with which so many currently live.

The runner-ups

On Collin’s 2022 Word of the Year list are:

Vibe shift: a significant change in the prevailing atmosphere or culture or trend

Quiet quitting: the practice of doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do, especially in order to spend more time on personal activities; the practice of doing little or no work while being present at one’s place of employment

Partygate: a political scandal over social gatherings held in British government during 2020 and 2021 in defiance of the public health restrictions that prevailed at that time

Lawfare: the strategic use of legal proceedings to intimidate or hinder an opponent

Kyiv: the capital of Ukraine on the Dnipro River

Warm bank: a heated building where people who cannot afford to heat their own homes may go

Sport washing: the sponsorship or promotion of sporting events in order to enhance a tarnished reputation or distract attention from a controversial activity

Carolean and splooting

Carolean and splooting are the two positive terms that made it through the Collins screening process as well. The former has to do with King Charles III’s ascension to the throne of Great Britain following the tragic death of Queen Elizabeth II. That is Carolean, which means simply “of or relating to Charles III of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or his reign.”

Splooting, describes “The act of lying flat on the stomach with the legs stretched out.”

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