Sustainability

Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year is “Climate Emergency”

Usage for the term increased a hundred-fold in 2019.

Oxford Dictionaries named “climate emergency” the word of the year for 2019 after usage for the term increased a hundred-fold this year.
 
Oxford defines “climate emergency” as “a situation in which urgent action is required to reduce or halt climate change and avoid potentially irreversible environmental damage resulting from it.” They said the term soared in usage in 2019 to become “one of the most prominent – and prominently debated – terms of 2019.” Related expressions like “climate crisis” and “climate action” also made their short list.
 
They also said that “climate” became the most common word associated with “emergency”— three times more than “health emergency,” which came in second.
 
Climate change and words associated with it have become part of almost everyone’s lexicon, with the environment and global warming becoming a more prominent problem than ever. Many attribute the increase in wildfires around the world and other erratic natural disasters like hurricanes to climate change. Meanwhile, activists like Greta Thunberg are challenging world leaders to prioritize the problem.
 
Earlier this month, Collin Dictionary chose “climate strike” as its word of the year, also citing a hundred-fold increase in usage.
 
Oxford has been selecting a word of the year since 2004, based on an immense uptick in usage. Previous words of the year include “toxic” in 2018, and “post-truth” in 2016.