Binge watch: Collins English Dictionary’s Word Of the Year

Posted on 9 November 2015
By Alex Hamilton
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‘Binge-watch’ has officially been named, Collins English Dictionary’s word of the year.

For those of you who were unaware that such a title even exists, Collins Word of the Year is a word that their lexicographers have identified as having been notably more visible in the last year.

It could be a completely new word, or just one that’s seen it’s day to day use rise in conjunction with social or cultural trends. According to the lexicographers at Collins, “The word started to gain real momentum in 2010 and it’s use has shot up around 200% since 2014. “It seems everyone has been ‘binge-watching’ this year – we’ve seen usage triple.”

Collins have defined binge-watching as, “To watch a large number of television programmes (especially all the shows from one series) in succession”

So ironically, the thrill of a week-long crystal meth bender, can be surpassed by an equally proportionate binge of the now legendary TV series Breaking Bad.

Helen Newstead, Head of Language Content at Collins, said; “It’s not uncommon for viewers to binge-watch a whole season of programmes such as Breaking Bad in just a couple of evenings – something that, in the past, would have taken months – then discuss their binge-watching on social media.”

The advent of online streaming from sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime, as well as downloading TV shows from a Torrent (excuse the pun) of other dubious sources, has changed the way we watch.

No, not just the medium we use to watch them, the way we physically watch has literally changed forever.

Once we were drip fed our viewing fix of choice, happy for the best part of 40 minutes, only for the hypnotic rug to be pulled from under our feet, before being cast into a week long bout of frustration as we awaited our next hit. But times have changed, we’ve been unleashed to consume entire series on a whim, devouring them like a nation of digital locusts.

According to Elaine Higgleton, international publisher at Collins Learning, the phrase has actually been around since the late 1990s, and binge is an old Lincolnshire dialect word that made it’s way into common English in the 19th century. She said; “From a very slow start, the phrase has really taken off exponentially as a term people are using every day.”

Whether it’s The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, Binge-watching is now the norm, a perfectly reasonable pass-time that excuses all need for social interaction.

Days are lost, we turn up for work looking unjustly hung-over, indeed, relationships are made and destroyed on the grounds of one’s latest fascination. In more primitive times, sitting alone in a darkened room for hours or days on end, staring at a screen would have been considered a sign of madness.

Thankfully, it’s now the cultural hallmark of any sane, socially savvy individual.