Have you ever had it?
That moment of panic, when it isn’t where you expected?
The horror and self-recrimination, when it slips between your fingers?
Or the long, slow dread and foreboding when it’s running out of charge?
If you have ever felt any of these things about your mobile phone, then you’ve experienced ‘nomophobia’ – the winner of Cambridge Dictionary’s People’s Word of the Year award for 2018.
nomophobia noun: fear or worry at the idea of being without your mobile phone or unable to use it
The dictionary’s editors chose four words that have been added to the compendium this year and that they thought best summed up 2018. They then put those to a public vote, and nomophobia emerged the winner.
“Your choice, nomophobia, tells us that people around the world probably experience this type of anxiety enough that you recognized it needed a name,” a blog post on the dictionary’s website said. “Like many modern coinages, nomophobia is what’s called a blend: a new word made up of syllables from two or more words, in this case ‘no mobile phone phobia.’”
The word was first used by researchers working for the British polling company YouGov, according to the blog post.
The other three words shortlisted were:
gender gap noun: a difference between the way men and women are treated in society, or between what men and women do and achieve
ecocide noun: destruction of the natural environment of an area, or very great damage to it
no-platforming noun: the practice of refusing someone an opportunity to make their ideas or beliefs known publicly, because you think these beliefs are dangerous or unacceptable
So at least now if you do find yourself frantically patting at your pockets, or staring forlornly at a shattered screen, you’ll be able to put a name to the pain you’re feeling.
Words: Craig Nicholson
Photo: Mike MacKenzie