‘Iso’ is Australia’s word of the year, dictionary center says.
Australians have a long tradition of shortening words and ending them with an “o,” such as “arvo” for afternoon and “servo” for gas or service stations. Now a new abbreviation has joined the Australian English lexicon: “iso.”
Short for “self-isolation,” it has come to be used as a catchall for Australia’s self-isolation measures during the coronavirus pandemic, ranging from quarantine to statewide lockdowns. On Tuesday, the Australian National Dictionary Center said it had been named word of the year.
“Our fondness for abbreviating words in Australia, and a natural human inclination to make the unknown and scary familiar, quickly saw the descriptive term ‘self-isolation’ shortened to ‘iso’ in March this year,” the center’s senior researcher, Mark Gwynn, said in a statement.
He said the word was “linguistically productive” in that it can be combined with other words to describe pandemic life. For example, a bad self-inflicted haircut could be called an “iso cut,” while weight gain during lockdown may be referred to as “iso kilos.”
This year’s shortlist was dominated by coronavirus-related words, including “bubble,” referring to the “household bubble” system in which Melbourne residents on lockdown were allowed to socialize with only one other household, as well as the “travel bubble” between Australia and New Zealand, both of which have largely brought the virus under control. Other shortlisted words included “Covid-normal,” the phase of reopening in which all restrictions are lifted, and “Black Summer,” the commonly used name for the catastrophic bushfire season of 2019-20.
In Britain, “lockdown” was named Collins English Dictionary’s word of the year. Some other words on the shortlist: “coronavirus,” “self-isolate” and “Tiktoker.”
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