The Cambridge Dictionary has revealed its word of the year for 2018 to be ‘nomophobia’, which it defines as ‘fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it.’
‘Nomophobia’ beat out other editor-selected finalists ‘gender gap’, ‘ecocide’ and ‘no-platforming’ in a public poll conducted by the dictionary.
‘Your choice, nomophobia, tells us that people around the world probably experience this type of anxiety enough that you recognized it needed a name!’ the Cambridge editors wrote in a statement.
The dictionary’s editors explained that ‘nomophobia’ is not a scientific word, and indicates anxiety rather than the extreme fear characteristic of a clinical phobia.
Cambridge Dictionary’s word of the year is ‘nomophobia’, which means the fear of being without your mobile phone, or unable to use it (stock photo)
‘Like many modern coinages, nomophobia is what’s called a blend: a new word made up of syllables from two or more words, in this case ‘no mobile phone phobia,’ the editors wrote.
The earliest written usage of the word appears to be a 2008 report commissioned by the UK Post Office.
The word has spread in popularity and was added to Cambridge’s online dictionary earlier this year.
The shortlist choices were selected from the year’s new additions to the online dictionary and were chosen based on their popularity and relevance.
The dictionary defined the runner-up words thusly:
- gender gap: a difference between the way men and women are treated in society, or between what men and women do and achieve
- ecocide: destruction of the natural environment of an area, or very great damage to it
- no-platforming: the practice of refusing someone an opportunity to make their ideas or beliefs known publicly, because you think these beliefs are dangerous or unacceptable
Other major dictionaries have also announced their words of the year for 2018.
For Collins Dictionary, it was ‘single-use’, referring to products such as plastic bottles, straws and bags that are designed to be used only once before disposal.
At the Oxford Dictionary, the word of the year was ‘toxic’, an adjective people increasingly use describe to describe views, relationships, cultures and even politicians.
Dictionary.com announced that its word of the year was ‘misinformation,’ defining the term as ‘false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.’
Merriam-Webster, which chooses its word of the year based on big increases in online look-ups, selected ‘justice’.
The dictionary said the concept of justice ‘was at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice’.
The Australian National Dictionary Centre took a more colloquial approach, dubbing ‘Canberra bubble’ its word of the year.
The term is a coinage of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who uses it to describe parliamentary gossip.
‘I think it also reflects the notion that across Australia there is some disenchantment with politics, and that politicians are more preoccupied with the goings-on in Canberra than the everyday concerns of Australians,’ ANDC director Amanda Laugesen said.