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We can thank Greta Thunberg and Jane Fonda for Collins Dictionary’s word of the year

Photo: Nicholas Kamm (AFP via Getty Images)

When you think of a word to sum up 2019, a few immediately come to mind: “fascism,” “emoluments,” “impeachment,” perhaps. But if we look past the quickly piling-up issues related to American democracy, the whole globe has larger problems. Accordingly, when Collins Dictionary announced its 2019 “word of the year” it went with “climate strike” (two words technically, but we’ll allow it). Mashable notes that usage of the term—officially defined as “a protest demanding action on climate change”—“increased by a whopping 100-fold between 2018 and 2019.”

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Over the past year, climate strike organizers have reached various levels of prominence. There’s young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, for example, and octogenarian Jane Fonda, who has recently pledged to get arrested on a weekly basis protesting climate change in Washington every Friday. Given the state of our rapidly heating planet (“Earth’s climate has experienced 18 of the 19 warmest years on record since 2000, and in 2019 scientists recorded the hottest month in 140 years of reliable record-keeping,” notes Mashable), climate strike is a term that most of us should be familiar with sooner rather than later.

Collins lists this year’s runners-up as “deepfake,” “double down,” “nonbinary,” and “influencer.” Also “rewilding,” the “practice of returning areas of land to a wild state,” which could also help with our environmental problems.

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About the author

Gwen Ihnat

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.