Thanks, Greta: 'Climate Strike' Is a Word of the Year

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg joins protesters during the global climate strike in Montreal, Canada, on September 27, 2019.
Photo: Getty

2019 is about to wrap, which means dictionaries are choosing their words of the year. For Collins Dictionary, “climate strike” took the prize.

The dictionary, which is based in Scotland, announced its list Thursday, giving credit for the word’s takeoff this year to Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. Thunberg is a teen who in August 2018 launched a global movement of Friday climate strikes. Students around the world took the streets in March, May, August, and they will surely continue.


For those in the dark, a climate strike is a protest demanding action on climate change. The term “climate strike” first became a thing back in November 2015, when young people with the Global Youth Summit organized a climate strike protest during the 21st Conference of the Parties in Paris where world leaders formally created the Paris Agreement. Still, the term exploded this year. In 2019, its usage increased by a hundred times, according to Collins lexicographers.

Thanks, teens—and especially you, Thunberg!

The shortlisted words Collins considered for 2019 include “influencer,” “rewilding,” and “cancel.” Last year, its word of the year was also environment-focused: “single-use.” Could Collins be a secret member of the movement? I sure hope so.


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About the author

Yessenia Funes

Senior staff writer, Earther. The one who "pulls the race card" in the name of environmental justice. You dig?

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