“Single-use” was named the Collins Dictionary word of the year on Wednesday, following a four-fold increase in usage since 2013 in a reflection of increased concerns about sustainability.
It edged out “MeToo” and “whitewash” to top the list of 10 new and notable words that “reflect an ever-evolving culture and the preoccupations of those who use it”, Collins said.
The wider 10 words of the year include ones inspired by Brexit, environmental concerns and the 2018 football World Cup.
“Single-use” describes items “whose unchecked proliferation are blamed for damaging the environment and affecting the food chain”, said Collins.
It said public awareness of plastic adrift in the oceans had led to a global campaign to reduce the use of once-only items.
Another environment-related word on the list was plogging: a Scandinavian fitness craze that combines jogging with picking up litter.
“Vegan”, a person who refrains from using any animal products, has become an increasingly mainstream lifestyle choice in recent years and so gets on the list.
“This has been a year where awareness and often anger over a variety of issues has led to the rise of new words and the revitalisation and adaptation of old ones,” said Helen Newstead, Collins’ head of language content.
“It’s clear from this year’s words of the year list that changes to our language are dictated as much by public concern as they are by sport, politics, and playground fads.”