Word of the Year 2021 reflects people’s desire to let loose

Word of the Year 2021 reflects people’s desire to let loose
The mask is dropping, with the CST finally headed for cold storage according to the federal health secretary's team. Credit: Belga

Thousands of people voted on Flanders’ Word of the Year 2021, which once again mirrors the desire for a normal life during coronavirus times, and reflects people’s yearning to let loose.

Last year, the most voted on word was “cuddle contact,” which even made international news, and refers to the person, apart from any family members, whom you’re allowed to have close (physical) contact, highlighting how the pandemic had come to dominate many people’s lives.

In 2021, another bittersweet word topped the Dutch dictionary Van Dale’s vote, which 7,000 people took part in: “Knaldrang,” directly translating as “banging desire,” which is youth slang for an “intense need to party.” It was voted on by more than 37% of all respondents.

“Thousands of people have voted again to choose the word of the year 2021, and four out of ten have chosen the word with the greatest positivity,” Ruud Hendrickx, Flemish editor-in-chief of Van Dale, said when announcing the word of the year.

In the second place, the word “tegelwippen,” signifying the replacing of tiles on the house with greenery, received 16% of the votes, followed by the anglicised “boosterprik,” referring to the repeated injection of a vaccine to enhance immunity against infectious disease, which is currently being rolled out en masse.

The word “knaldrang” was first made popular among younger people when Dutch singer Merol released a song with the word in the title, in which she exclaimed her strong longing to go out to parties and festivals.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, where some 49,000 people took part in the Van Dale’s Dutch equivalent of the vote, the most popular word is also linked to the pandemic, but in a less positive way.

With 82.2% of the votes, “prikspijt,” meaning “someone’s regret of having been vaccinated against a particular infectious disease,” was the clear winner of the election. This word didn’t appear on the Flemish list of nominated candidates for the most popular words.


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