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Children’s Word of the Year is……Brexit


Following analysis of short story entries in this year’s BBC Radio 2 500 Words competition, we have announced ‘Brexit’ as Children’s Word of the Year.

Each year, Oxford Dictionaries partner with the BBC to run this national story writing competition, which celebrates young writers and offers an insight into children’s language today. Previous words of the year include plastic (2018), Trump (2017) and refugee (2016) reflecting the influence of global affairs on children’s creativity. Our Children’s Word of the Year forms part of a wider language analysis report, which this year also saw a focus on environmental activism, increased use of heroes and villains, and a 61% rise in the mention of sloths.

This year, the national focus on Brexit has been a major topic for young writers with use of the word Brexit increasing by 464% since last year. The term Brexit is a portmanteau created from ‘British’ and ‘exit’. Children also used this idea as inspiration to invent their own words, such as ‘Frexit’ seen in the below excerpt from one of the entries:

‘The Apples said ’We all think it would just be easier to leave without a deal of warmth throughout the Winter since it is late Autumn and is almost time to leave!’ The blueberries didn’t agree and said ’That would be a no deal FREXIT!’ (The Summer The Fruits Argued, boy aged 12).

Helen Freeman, OUP’s Director of Publishing Operations and Home Sector, commented: ‘What is an extremely complex and difficult issue for some of the finest political minds has inspired children’s creativity and inventiveness in a really interesting and smart way. This year’s stories show an overwhelming desire among children to take action and create positive change themselves, at home, at school, and in society more generally. Agency and empowerment are massive themes.’

Zoe Ball, Radio 2 Breakfast show presenter, says: ‘I love how the analysis of Radio 2’s 500 Words entries is able to uncover so much fascinating information about the stories. The research shows just how aware and engaged kids are with both history and the world around them today, and how amazing that they bring these subjects to life in such inventive and entertaining ways.’

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