General Article ‘Anxiety’ named as children’s Word of the Year for 2021

Topic Selected: Anxiety Book Volume: 422

Expert says word is ‘concerning’ but ‘not surprising’

By Saman Javed

Anxiety was children’s word of the year in 2021, according to research by lexicographers at Oxford University Press (OUP).

Prompted by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, last year’s annual vocabulary research focused on wellbeing.

Approximately 8,000 school pupils – ranging from year three to year nine – were asked to choose the top words they would use when discussing their mental health and experiences during lockdown.

Teachers from the 85 schools taking part in the study were also surveyed on the words they use most often when talking to children about their physical and mental health.

More than one in five (21 per cent) students said ‘anxiety’ was the word they identified with most during the past year, closely followed by ‘challenging’ (19 per cent) and ‘isolate’ (14 per cent).

Experts said the findings highlight the impact that lockdown and school closures had on children, and the ‘vital role language plays...

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