The wait is over: The Netherlands' word of the year 2020 is...

The wait is over: The Netherlands' word of the year 2020 is...

New words pop up all the time, but 2020 saw a huge wave of new words, all relating to the coronavirus pandemic. In the Netherlands, this allowed for a whole new level of creativity, as words like coronamoe and covidioot were coined, and the word mondkapje enjoyed a real surge in popularity. 

But there can only be one winner. After 12.000 votes were cast, Dikke van Dale have announced anderhalvemetersamenleving as the Netherlands' word of the year for 2020. 

Anderhalvemetersamenleving is the word of the year

Many of the nominees in this year's race were coronavirus-related, but anderhalvemetersamenleving proved the most popular. The word, directly translated as "one-and-a-half-metre-society," refers to a society which is set up in a way that allows people to maintain (at-least) 1,5-metre distance from one another in public spaces, and is a prime example of the wonderful way the Dutch language allows you to play with words, pushing multiple words together to make something completely new. The word won a whopping 30 percent of the votes, making it the clear winner for 2020. 

The runners up were fabeltjesfuik with 11 percent of the vote, and viruswappie with 10,5 percent of the vote. The editor-in-chief of the Dikke van Dale dictionary announced the winner via Twitter:

Previous winners of the title include boomer (2019) and selfie (2013). Van Dale also runs a similar poll in Belgium, where the word knuffelcontact ("cuddle contact") won 53 percent of the votes and became Belgium's word of the year. Knuffelcontact refers to a person outside the members of your household or family with whom you have had close (physical) contact with during the coronavirus crisis.

2020 nominees for the Netherlands' word of the year

Anderhalvemetersamenleving had some steep competition, and 20 words were nominated for the honour. Here's a list of all the nominees and their definitions. 

  • Covid: COVID-19; The disease caused by a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. 
  • Covidioot ("covidiot"): Insult for someone who ignores the coronavirus measures put in place by the Dutch government.
  • Blokjesverjaardag ("block-birthday"): A birthday party where the guests arrive in specific time blocks to spread people throughout the day and limit group size. 
  • Coronamoe ("corona-tired"): Being fed-up with coronavirus and all the news / information / conversations about the virus. 
  • Eenzaamheidsvirus ("loneliness virus"): A metaphor for the loneliness felt during lockdown and (self)quarantine, especially among people who live alone.
  • Fabeltjesfuik ("fable trap"): Social media users who become interested in conspiracy theories and, through the social media algorithms, become exposed to more and more theories which they slowly start to believe in. 
  • Hoestschaamte ("coughing shame"): The shame and embarrassment someone feels after coughing in public, when people around them could think they run the risk of becoming infected.
  • Infodemie ("information-demic"): The quick spread of (false) information about coronavirus via social media, further fuelling conspiracy theories and limiting the spread of correct information.
  • Jojolockdown ("yoyo-lockdown"): An extended period of time in which a country alternates between strict lockdowns and more relaxed lockdowns.
  • Klimaatwanhoper ("climate dispair-er"): Someone who believes that climate change is a result of human activity, but believes any attempt to combat the climate crisis is futile.
  • Kuchscherm ("cough screen"): The perspex screen that is regularly found in shops or restaurants to protect employees and limit the risk of infection.
  • Lockdownfeestje ("lockdown party"): A party that takes place during lockdown and is organised by people who don't take the government measures or pandemic seriously.
  • Raambezoek ("window visit"): The act of visiting friends or family through the window of their home so as to maintain distance and limit the spread of a virus.
  • Racismeknielen ("racism kneeling"): The act of kneeling as a symbol against racism.
  • Stekkergekte ("plug madness"): A kind of madness that comes from the large-scale transition to electric devices (i.e. electric cars).
  • Testsamenleving ("test-society"): A society in which people can only partake in certain activities after having recently tested negative for a virus. 
  • Uitsluitingscultuur ("cancel culture"): (i) A culture in which it is normal to boycott famous people or companies after they have done or said something deemed politically incorrect, or (ii) A culture in which people who aren't vaccinated can be excluded from certain events and activities. 
  • Viruswappie ("virus fool"): Insult for someone who denies the severity of coronavirus and / or the pandemic and / or believes in and spreads conspiracy theories via social media, especially for someone with extreme ideas about coronavirus. 
  • Zelfquarantaine (self-quarantaine): The act of voluntarily going into quarantine. 
Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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