Nomophobia, Incel, Toxic: The 2018 Words of the Year

Are you scared of being separated from your cellphone? You are “nomophobic.” That was Cambridge Dictionary’s “People’s Word of the Year” for 2018.

The Oxford Dictionary chose a more familiar word as it’s word of the year: “toxic.” Why? According to University of Chicago linguist Jason Riggle, Oxford saw a 45-percent spike in searches for “toxic” this year. But its usage has expanded beyond “toxic gas” and “toxic chemicals,” says Riggle, to include metaphorical usage in expressions like “toxic masculinity,” “toxic relationship” and “toxic culture.”

Oxford’s short list included the word “incel,” which it defines as “a member of an online community of young men who consider themselves unable to attract women sexually” – an involuntary celibate.

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is “justice.” Riggle says that dictionary saw a spike in searches for that word because the concept was at the center of several national debates this year, from “obstruction of justice” to “Supreme Court justice” to “Department of Justice.”

Riggle joins us to discuss these words of the year and others from and Collins Dictionary.

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