Children’s Word of the Year 2017: trump
Every year thousands of young people from across the UK pick up their pens to enter BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words story competition. For the past six years, the Oxford Dictionaries for Children team has collected and analysed all of the words used by young writers in the competition and our Children’s Word of the Year is chosen based on this analysis.
This year, Donald Trump took office as President of the United States in the same week that the 500 Words competition launched and, as a result, the word trump appeared a total of 2,296 times in the 2017 stories, as a noun (a trump), a proper noun (Trump the name) and as a verb (trumped, trumping). The proper noun Trump showed the biggest increase, from 112 mentions in 2016 to 1,959 this year – that’s an increase of 1,628%!
Children have also been playing with blends, suffixes and prefixes to create new words improvised around Trump. In fact there are more than 100 instances of words such as Trumplestiltskin, Trumpyness, Trumpido, Trumpeon and Trumpwinningtastic.
Political vocabulary in general has grown in usage in 2017’s stories, showing children’s engagement with the news and media. The words politics and political show an increase of 115% and 78% respectively since last year, and an analysis of a cluster of around 30 words relating to contemporary politics (e.g. president, vote, election, campaign) shows a 58% increase in frequency since 2016. New words and phrases in this year’s stories include Brexit, Article 50, fake news, and alternative facts.
Gaming words appear in the 500 Words stories every year – this year it is the craze for Pokémon GO that had the largest impact on kids’ imaginations with Pikachu coming 9th in the list of most-mentioned famous people or fictional characters.
Unsurprisingly, dog and cat are the most popular animals mentioned and appear in the top 100 nouns in the entire 2017 corpus of stories. But which wins the battle of the pets? Hounds beat felines to the top spot! Dogs were mentioned 31,628 in this year’s stories (compared to the 21,162 mentions of cats). You can see more insights from this year’s analysis on the Oxford Dictionaries for Children website.