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'Permacrisis' is the UK's word of the year for 2022

November 1, 2022

Collins Dictionary announced that permacrisis, partygate, and quiet quitting were the words that most summed up the past year in Britain. The UK has seen three prime ministers and a new monarch in a matter of months.

A reporter raises his hand to ask Liz Truss a question during a Downing Street press conference
Liz Truss resigned as PM after only six weeks in office, but her term was long enough to see two monarchs at the British throneImage: Photoshot/picture alliance

Collins Dictionary in the UK announced its "Word of the Year" for 2022 on Tuesday: permacrisis.

The word refers to a never-ending cycle of crises, for example, the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with climate change and political chaos and scandals such as seen in Britain this year.

"Permacrisis sums up quite succinctly just how truly awful 2022 has been for many people," said Collins Learning managing director Alex Beecroft.

The UK has had three prime ministers in the last three months. Every premier since the 2016 Brexit vote has had to resign.

UK enters the 'Carolean' age

Runners-up included "partygate," the name given to one of the incidents that led to the resignation of former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Johnson and his staff were found to have flouted pandemic lockdown rules in 2020 by having parties at his Downing Street residence.

Another contender was "sportswashing," which is when an organization or government uses sports to distract from a poor human rights record. Golf tournaments in Saudi Arabia as well as the upcoming soccer World Cup in Qatar have been called examples of sportswashing.

Other items on the shortlist were "Carolean," the adjective for the era ushered in by the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the ascension of her son King Charles III, and "quiet quitting." The latter refers to the practice of not going above and beyond at work as a response to not being treated well by your employer.

In 2021, the Collins' word of the year was "NFT" or non-fungible token. NFTs are original digital artworks, some of which garnered multi-million dollar price tags before the NFT and cryptocurrency markets plummeted this year.

Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.