November 6, 2015
Your bad habit is Collins Dictionary’s word of the year
by Zeljka Marosevic
Collins Dictionary has named “binge-watch” as 2015’s Word of the Year. The term, which the dictionary defines as, “To watch a large number of television programmes (especially all the shows from one series) in succession,” fought off fierce competition from neologisms such as dadbod and corbynomics to be crowned the most popular.
Collins makes its decisions based on word usage. Lexicographers track the introduction of new words into the lexicon and how frequently they are used in the culture. This year, they saw the usage of ‘binge-watch’ shoot up 200% from 2014. Speaking to the Guardian, Helen Newstead, head of language content at Collins, explained:
The rise in usage of ‘binge-watch’ is clearly linked to the biggest sea change in our viewing habits since the advent of the video recorder nearly 40 years ago. Due to subscription services such as Netflix or Sky’s NOW TV, or ‘smart’ digital video recorders such as Tivo, fans can watch what they want, when they want, for as long as they want.
Tracking language usage is one way of tracing trends and can be a useful way of taking stock of what the society in which we live. Last year, we reported that the Oxford English Dictionary crowned “vape” word of the year; before that it was “selfie.” “Binge-watch” suggests further societal disintegration. Collins also noticed a rise in the use of “swipe”, presumably due to the invention of the dating app Tinder, and “Ghosting,” which is defined as: “The act or an instance of ending a romantic relationship by not responding to attempts to communicate by the other party.”
The proliferation of such terms leads to the inevitable question: are we really a TV-obsessed society too busy swiping on Tinder to care about breaking the hearts of our fellow human beings?
It seems so, yes. But at least some hope can be found in the other runners-up for Word of the Year. Turns out when we’re not binge-watching Netflix, we’re discussing left-wing economic policy and the sexism in public spaces:
The economic policies advocated by Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK Labour Party from 2015.
Of or relating to a person whose gender identity does not fully correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth.
The practice by a male passenger on public transport of sitting with his legs wide apart, so denying space to passengers beside him.
Zeljka Marosevic is the former managing director of Melville House UK.