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07th Nov 2018

Ranking the Collins Dictionary words of the year from worst to best

Whitewash, gaslight, floss, gammon. Perhaps the wrong winner has been crowned.

Ciara Knight

Happy Collins Dictionary announcing the word of the year day to you and yours!

It’s nerd Christmas and the festivities have only just begun, thanks to the Collins Dictionary finally, finally informing us of their official word of the year.

Not to go all textbook on proceedings, but the official word of the year is actually two words: Single-use. It’s fine, there’s a hyphen and I’m willing to overlook it on this occasion.

In terms of the shortlisted words, some are good, some are okay and some are a bit shit. Such is the cross we must bear in this modern age.

But which is the best word overall and which is the shittest? Did Collins Dictionary get it right? Sure, you could figure that out in your own time using an advanced scoring system and the process of elimination, or, continue reading and simply take my word for it.

Behold, every shortlisted Collins Dictionary word of the year 2018, ranked from worst to best.

10. Vegan

Noun: a person who refrains from using any animal product for any purpose.

Collins Dictionary, we been knew. Vegans have been around for many years, some might even say too many years. The criteria for word of the year should be a brand new word, one that’s recently come into circulation, such as, off the top of my head, ‘blimpty’ or ‘chuffsnub’. We’ve been using ‘vegan’ for ages. Everyone knows what it means. This is a cop out. Collins Dictionary ran out of words and stuck that in like a student who needs to reach a word count by midnight. We’ve been played.

9. Backstop

Noun: A system that will come into effect if no other arrangement is made.

Terrific, now Brexit is infiltrating the sanctity of our words of the year as well. Does its destruction know no bounds? Backstop’s only definition should be sports-related, referring to the safety nets or walls that prevent balls from maiming onlookers. Alternatively, backstop would be a good word for the act of initially failing to halt at traffic lights, then changing your mind at the last second. “That man, he committed a dangerous backstop. Also, Brexit is garbage”. See, it works perfectly.

8. VAR

Abbreviation: Video assistant referee.

Weird flex, but okay. Referees should be worried. This marks the beginning of robots taking over. Video footage is playing a key role in sporting decisions, which means referees are on borrowed time. It doesn’t end there. Cars are driving themselves, phones are being unlocked using facial recognition, you can cook a baked potato in a microwave in 5 minutes. VAR being included as one of the words of the year sends a strong message to all – technology is coming for us and the robots will ultimately kill us all.

7. Single-use

Adjective: Made to be used once only.

Although this was the official winner of the Collins Dictionary word of the year, I’m placing it in seventh position. Yes, the sentiment behind it is nice, save the planet so Sir David Attenborough will stop telling us off and all that, but it’s two words, admittedly hyphenated, but two words. That’s like the Calor Gas Housewife of the Year being awarded two housewives, or perish the thought, a househusband. Stick to your own rules, Collins Dictionary. Word of the year, not words. Smdh get out of my sight.

6. Whitewash

Verb: To cast a white actor in the role of a character from a minority ethnic group or to produce using white actors to play characters from a minority ethnic group.

Surely a word as important as this deserves to have only one meaning. Instead, it has two, because a whitewash is also the act of throwing all your white garments into the washing machine. That is also a whitewash. Those are two very different acts, somehow connected metaphorically, but merit having their own separate definitions. Hereby, I recommend that we change the name for the act of washing your white clothes to ‘washing your white clothes’. Give it a whirl, see how it feels.

5. Gaslight

Verb: To attempt to manipulate someone by continually presenting them with false information until they doubt their sanity.

Again, we’ve got another word with a double meaning infiltrating the Collins Dictionary word of the year shortlist. Gaslighting is also the act of holding a lighter near your bum as you let rip with a burst of flatulence. Heck, to ‘gaslight’ is also how you get a fire going in a fancy house. This whole process is teetering on insanity. We simply cannot live in a world where the Collins Dictionary word of the year shortlist contains words that have multiple meanings. We need order. We need structure. We need the Oxford Dictionary.

4. Floss

Noun: A dance in which people twist their hips in one direction while swinging their arms in the opposite direction with closed fists.

How do you do, fellow kids? I’m your friendly neighbourhood dentist and I’m here to tell you that you must floss daily, but also, you must floss daily!! Floss is a great word, but again, its double meaning is going to cause problems down the line. Mainly for dentists or dance enthusiasts, who will undoubtedly struggle to get their point across without employing either the dance move or hand movements to signify which of the two they’re referring to. It’s a terrific word, but deserves to have one single meaning. Thank you for coming to my TED Talk.

3. MeToo

Adjective: Denoting a cultural movement that seeks to expose and eradicate predatory sexual behaviour, especially in the workplace.

Honestly this is good and important and represents a positive change that’s currently going on in the world right now, so for these reasons, I cannot fault it. Except for the fact that it is two words and the Collins Dictionary is yet again bending the rules by slamming both words together but using a capital ‘T’ to disguise it. Also, it kind of sounds like Mewtwo, the bipedal humanoid Pokémon with feline features. Other than these minor issues, it’s a good addition to the shortlist and gets an honourable third place listing.

2. Gammon

Noun: A person, typically male, middle-aged and white, with reactionary views, especially one who supports the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union.

Incredible. Whomever first coined this stellar term deserves the world. Have you tried calling someone a gammon? Honestly, it feels better than the C-word. Everything it represents is glorious. Have you ever seen someone who is just truly the embodiment of a pineapple garnish-less thick slice of ham? Usually they have a giant nose and very little hair that they’re still trying to comb into a decent mound to give the illusion of girth. Gammons are the worst. Do yourself a favour and call someone a gammon today.

1. Plogging

Noun: A recreational activity, originating in Sweden, that combines jogging with picking up litter.

Yes. Here we go. Finally, an actual brand new word that we haven’t heard before. Plogging. If someone asked you to guess what it meant, you’d probably think it was a new media trend where paragliders have taken up blogging. They document their journeys and fondness for bright colours, shared in a warm community among their peers. But no, it’s a word for picking up litter when you’re jogging, an act that nobody will ever do because it is nonsense, but at least now there’s a word for it. Congratulations, plogging. You are the unofficial Collins Dictionary word of the year.