Anderhalvemetersamenleving, a compound noun describing life under the Dutch government’s 1.5-meter (5-foot) social distancing requirement, was the runaway winner of a vote held by the Van Dale dictionary company.
The lengthy new word, which was added to the dictionary in April during the first spike in Dutch coronavirus infections, garnered just under 30% of some 12,000 votes in the annual competition.
The results were announced Tuesday, the day the Netherlands began a strict five-week lockdown to counter recent sharp rises in new infections.
In second place with 11% was “fabel-tjes-fuik” a noun which Van Dale defines as the “phenomenon that users of social media who are interested in conspiracies are offered more and more messages about conspiracies due to the operation of social media, which gradually leads them to believe in them.”
All the other words in the top 10 were related to the year’s defining story – the coronavirus pandemic – and celebrate the Dutch way of creating new words by knitting together existing words to describe a new phenomenon.
They included “hoestschaamte,” a word best translated as “coughshame” – the feeling experienced by people who cough in public places during the pandemic – and “lockdownfeestje,” a word describing parties staged and attended by people who don’t take seriously a lockdown necessitated by a large-scale virus outbreak.