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The word “Brexit” has been named the most important political contribution to the English language since “Watergate”

A man holds a banner during a demonstration against Britain's decision to leave the European Union, in central London, Britain July 2, 2016. Britain voted to leave the European Union in the EU Brexit referendum.
Reuters/Paul Hackett
Maybe next year.
By Marta Cooper
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Lexicographers at dictionary publisher Collins have chosen “Brexit” as the most significant English word of 2016, describing it as the most influential political term for the English language since the Watergate scandal gave birth to a convenient shorthand for wrongdoing.

The publisher claims the use of the term for Britain’s exit from the EU, which was first recorded in 2013, has increased by more than 3,400% this year. It’s also given rise to numerous spin-off phrases, evidence of its significance, Helen Newstead, head of language content at Collins, said in a statement.

“‘Brexit’ is arguably politics’ most important contribution to the English language in over 40 years, since the Watergate scandal gave commentators and comedians the suffix ‘-gate’ to make any incident or scandal infinitely more compelling,” Newstead said.

Indeed, the Brexit-inspired portmanteaus keep coming, giving rise to “bremainers” (those who voted to remain in the EU), “bremorse” (the feeling of post-Brexit regret), and even extend outside Britain’s shores to describe incidences like ”Mexit,” referring to soccer player Lionel Messi’s retirement from the international game. For Newstead, this shows how “Brexit” is proving “even more useful and adaptable” than the “-gate” suffix.

Collins explains that its lexicographers trawled through its 4.5 billion-word database to determine “the words that reflect the social and cultural developments of the last year, and which people have adopted or used to give a name to a recognizable phenomenon or experience.”

“Brexit” tops a list of 10 words (featured with their Collins definitions below) that will live on the website before being considered for future print editions of the dictionary.

Brexit (noun): The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

Dude food (noun): Junk food such as hot dogs, burgers, etc., considered particularly appealing to men.

Hygge (noun): A concept, originating in Denmark, of creating cosy and convivial atmospheres that promote well-being.

JOMO (noun): An acronym for the “joy of missing out”: pleasure gained from enjoying one’s current activities without worrying that other people are having more fun. (Not to be confused with fomo, yolo, or other acronyms reflective of our modern-day anxieties.)

Mic drop (noun): A theatrical gesture in which a person drops (or imitates the action of dropping) a hand-held microphone to the ground as the finale to a speech or performance.

Sharenting (noun): The habitual use of social media to share news, images, etc., of one’s children.

Snowflake generation (noun): The young adults of the 2010s, viewed as being less resilient and more prone to taking offense than previous generations.

Throw shade (verb): To make a public show of contempt for someone or something, often in a subtle or non-verbal manner.

Trumpism (noun): (1) The policies advocated by the US politician Donald Trump, especially those involving a rejection of the current political establishment and the vigorous pursuit of American national interests. (2) A controversial or outrageous statement attributed to Donald Trump.

Uberization (noun): The adoption of a business model in which services are offered on demand through direct contact between a customer and supplier, usually via mobile technology.

📬 A periodic dispatch from the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly in NYC.

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