'Nomophobia', a word used to describe stress and anxiety caused by being separated from a mobile phone, has been deemed the Cambridge Dictionary’s inaugural People’s Word of the Year, beating entries such as ‘gender pay gap’ and ‘no platforming’.
For the first time, this year the dictionary's editors asked people across the world to vote for the word that best summed up 2018 from a shortlist of four terms which have surged in use. ‘Nomophobia’, described by the dictionary as ‘fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it’, topped the polls.
A blend of syllables from ‘no mobile phone phobia’, it appears to have been coined in 2008 by YouGov researchers, in a report commissioned by the UK Post Office, Cambridge said. It subsequently began to appear in UK media and was added to the online Cambridge Dictionary earlier this year.
Other shortlisted entries for People’s Word of 2018 included 'gender pay gap', following the government legislation which forced some companies to share disparity in gender pay earlier this year. ‘Ecocide’ was also shortlisted and refers to the destruction of the natural environment of an area, or very great damage to it, along with the noun 'no-platforming’. This means the practice of refusing someone an opportunity to make their ideas or beliefs known publicly, because you think these beliefs are dangerous or unacceptable, according to Cambridge University Press which publishes the dictionary.
“We add thousands of new words and definitions every year, and we were eager to give our users the opportunity to express their views on the words that best reflected this year’s trends and events,” Wendalyn Nichols, Cambridge Dictionary publishing manager said. “Their votes tell us that separation anxiety isn’t just about what young children feel when separated from their parents any longer. It’s now also about the intimate – and often dysfunctional – relationships with our smartphones. And nomophobia gives a name to this anxiety.”
Cambridge University Press is part of the city’s university, and has published the dictionaries since 1995. Cambridge Dictionaries Online began offering these dictionaries completely free of charge in 1999. For more information on the addition of new words to the dictionary, visit the company’s two-minute on their YouTube channel.