Another year is almost over, and once more it feels like so much has happened and changed in our world over the last twelve months. These are changes which can be seen not just in the headlines and the streets, but reflected in our language as well.
So as we move towards 2022, let’s take a look back at some of the most interesting, useful and insightful words to enter our lexicon in 2021, both in English and in the other languages we translate.
No. 1: Doomscrolling (English)
Both 2020 and 2021 have been challenging years, and a lot of the new words to enrich our vocabularies relate to the pandemic. From double-vaxxed to covidiot and quaranteen, many of the contenders are downright depressing. So let’s stick to just one covid-related entry in this list – “doomscrolling“, an activity we can all relate to. Now in the Oxford Dictionary, this term means obsessively scrolling through bad or negative news on a phone or tablet.
An activity we all hope to leave behind us in 2022.
No. 2: Cheugy (English)
According to the New York Times, “cheugy” is hard to define, but you’ll know it when you see it. Coined by LA-based high-schooler Gaby Rasson, cheugy simply refers to something that’s off-trend or uncool, and it is widely used by Gen Z to describe cultural phenomena adored by millennials. Uggs, cake pops, denim jackets and even staples as timeless as lasagne and succulents have all been panned as “cheugy”, while those guilty of indulging such pleasures are labelled “cheugs”.
No. 3: Trolear (To Troll, Spanish)
In an age where we all spend more time online than ever before, it is perhaps unsurprising that this calque from the English verb to troll has made its way into the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy. The word joins a long list of English technology words to be packaged in a format that lends itself to Spanish conjugation from “tuitear” (to tweet) and “guglear” (to Google) to “wasapear” (to WhatsApp).
No. 4: Divulgâcher (Spoiler, Quebecois French)
Although this word first surfaced around 2019, it has become particularly pertinent in a year when we have spent ample time indoors binging on Netflix and communicating online. Combining the words for divulge and spoil this Quebecois neologism is the French answer to spoilers – ruining a television show or a movie by revealing the twist or the ending. A cardinal sin nowadays, if you ask us!
No. 5: Tågskryt (Train Boasting, Swedish)
The climate transition has brought many new words to the Swedish language, from “flygskam” (a feeling of guilt for flying) to “smygflyga” (to fly on the down-low) and now “tågskryt” – literally train boasting, or that warm feeling of smugness and self-satisfaction you get for choosing to travel by rail rather than by air.
According to the journalist who coined the term, it also encapsulates the inherent luxury in train travel – the freedom to take more time over your journey. But with new night trains having launched this year between Stockholm, Copenhagen and Berlin, it looks like even those in more of a hurry will be able to do some train boasting in 2022.
No. 6: Killräckligt (Swedish)
This nifty little adverb is a portmanteau of the words “kille” (guy) and “tillräckligt” (sufficiently) and in just three short symbols it conveys an idea which takes thirteen words in English: to get away with doing a worse job because you’re a man. Although this word is not yet in the dictionary, it is becoming increasingly popular among Swedes keen to teasingly highlight persisting disparities between the genders both at work and in society at large.
No.7: Duine de dhath (Person of Colour, Irish)
Just like any other European language, Irish is a tongue which evolves and changes with the times, and this year the National Terminology Database took action to solve a problem plaguing its use in modern times. Previous phrases for people of colour were problematic in the language, in part because the literal term “fear dubh” (a black man) refers to a mythological devil or bogeyman in Irish folklore.
“Duine de dhath” gives the Irish language a modern and respectful term to describe people of colour and helps the language to evolve and remain relevant in an increasingly diverse and interconnected global context.
No. 8: Cringe (From English to Danish)
The number of words from English while filter into other languages each year seems increasingly astronomical, especially in the Scandinavian languages. One which has received particular traction and even made its way into the Danish dictionary is “cringe”, now a standard term on the streets of Copenhagen to describe all things that provoke embarrassment and mortification.
No. 9: Hygge (From Danish to English and French)
But it’s not just English words making their way into other languages. The Danish word “hygge” made its way both into the Merriam Webster dictionary and the Le Petit Larousse dictionary in France. It brings reassurance to know that we’ve all used our time indoors to become experts in the Danish art of making ourselves cosy!
No. 10: NFT (English)
Each year, the Collins Dictionary names one single neologism the word of the year. This year competition was tight with words like “cheugy”, “pingdemic” and “metaverse” all in contention. Ultimately, though, the accolade went not a word per-se but to an abbreviation – “NFT”, or “Non-Fungible Token”. According to the dictionary, an NFT is a unique digital certificate, registered in a blockchain, that is used to record ownership of an asset such as an artwork or a collectible.
The term became well known this year after an NFT of the YouTube video Charlie Bit My Finger was sold for a massive $760,999. The dictionary acknowledged that it was unusual for an abbreviation to be named word of the year, but said that the term had experienced a meteoric rise over the course of 2021 which was worthy of recognition.
So there you have it – ten new words from 2021 to take with us into the new year.
We hope you have enjoyed reading the blog and we wish you all a very “non-cheugy” and decidedly “hygge” Christmas, free from “doomscrolling”, cringe” and “divulgâcher”, and maybe with an “NFT” or two under your digital Christmas tree!
And by the way, on the topic of Christmas, be sure to check out our fun Christmas video for 2021!