2018's Word of the Year has been announced. You'll never guess what it is
The words that crept into our vocabularies include the obvious MeToo. But you'll be forgiven for not knowing the top one
If the word “gammon” conjures images of a delicious Sunday lunch, you need to move with the times. Collins Dictionary has named “gammon” as one of its words of the year for 2018, but defining it as “a term of abuse directed at the most reactionary pro-Brexit supporters”.
It is generally deployed to describe white men of a certain age who become pink in the face when working themselves into a rage about the European Union.
Although it has become more common since the Referendum, the term was used in 1838 by Charles Dickens to describe a pompous MP named Mr Gregsbury in Nicholas Nickleby.
“The meaning of that term – gammon – is unknown to me. If it means that I grow a little too fervid, or perhaps even hyperbolic, in extolling my native land, I admit the full justice of my remark,” the character says.
“I am proud of this free and happy country. My form dilates, my eye glistens, my breast heaves, my heart swells, my bosom burns, when I call to mind her greatness and her glory.”
Other words newly included in Collins’s online edition include “#MeToo” and “gaslight”.
“Single-use”, referring to the plastics littering our oceans, is also on the list – its impact was highlighted by the BBC’s Blue Planet II series.
Helen Newstead, head of language content at Collins, said: “This has been a year where awareness and often anger over a variety of issues has led to the rise of new words and the revitalisation and adaptation of old ones.
“It’s clear from this year’s Words of the Year list that changes to our language are dictated as much by public concern as they are by sport, politics, and playground fads.”
One more lighthearted word on the list is “plogging”, a Swedish activity that combines litter picking while running (it merges the words “jogging” and “plocka” Swedish for “to pick”).
– © Telegraph Media Group Limited
Collins Dictionary Words of the Year 2018
Single-use: made to be used once only, commonly referring to disposable plastic items such as straws and bottles.
Backstop: a system that will come into effect if no other arrangement is made.
Floss: a dance in which people twist their hips in one direction while swinging their arms in the opposite direction with fists closed.
Gammon: a person, typically middle-aged and white, with reactionary views, especially one who supports the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union.
Gaslight: to attempt to manipulate (a person) by continually presenting them with false information until they doubt their sanity.
MeToo: denoting a cultural movement that seeks to expose and eradicate predatory sexual behaviour, especially in the workplace.
Plogging: a recreational activity, originating in Sweden, that combines jogging with picking up litter.
VAR: abbreviation for video assistant referee.
Vegan: a person who refrains from using any animal product whatever for food, clothing or any other purpose.
Whitewash: to cast a white actor in the role of a character from a minority ethnic group, or to produce a film or play using white actors to play characters from a minority ethnic group.