‘Trump’ revealed as Children’s Word of the Year 2017

Trump has been revealed as Children’s Word of the Year by Oxford University Press for BBC Radio 2’s 500 Words.

This year, more than 130,000 children entered the BBC 500 Words competition and the team at Oxford Children’s Dictionaries have been poring through all 131,798 entries to identify the Children’s Word of the Year 2017 as trump.

As with previous years, the stories written as part of BBC 500 Words demonstrate children’s keen interest in contemporary affairs. 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 showed a massive 839% increase on last year, as a noun (a trump), a proper noun (Trump the name) and as a verb (trumped, trumping).

Political vocabulary in general has also 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.

“Personal interactions were banned along with newspapers and books. Nowadays you were only allowed to communicate through tweeting alternative facts.”

From the entry Stories

Trump is mentioned in a wide variety of contexts, from the US elections and politics, to tales of space, aliens, and superheroes, giving expression to children’s creativity, playfulness, and humour. Children also use the noun to invent new character names including Boggle Trump and Snozzle Trump. Children have 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 Trumplestilskin, Trumpyness, Trumpido, Trumpeon and Trumpwinningtastic.

“OH NO! I have spoken too soon… the train’s track has broken because a mean Trumpdiddlydumper blew a bit out of the track… Our Marshmallow Goblin-Trolls get to work immediately.”

From the entry Sticky Journey

Children’s use of satire in this year’s 500 Words competition also stood out, showing a high level of sophistication, creativity and humour.

10… 9…8 ‘my hair is so amazing’…7. ‘And real’. 6… 5 ‘I am going to make the moon great again!’. 3… 2…1 blast off!!

From the entry Donald J Trump Goes to the Moon

We even have stories featuring characters such as Donald Trout, Hillary Kitten, and Obama Llama.

“This year, the stories demonstrate creativity, style and wit, all underpinned by a sophisticated use of grammar and language. From humorous punning to creating their own words, children have played and experimented with language with impressive results.

The stories have not only provided us with infinite entertainment, but also contributed to language research for children’s dictionaries. As well as this, 500 Words has led to academic research at Oxford University which will support teachers and schools. #StoryChampions!”

Vineeta Gupta,
Head of Children’s Dictionaries at Oxford University Press

Other key findings:

  • A new phrase for 2017, Pokémon Go was mentioned 132 times
  • YouTube was the most mentioned social media site, whilst Instagram overtook Facebook to be the second most mentioned social media platform.
  • The word superhero/superheroes is used 3088 times, and Batman and Superman are the most-mentioned superhero characters in the stories.

Writing tips and advice

500 Words might be over for another year, but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to put down your pens!

Explore the results

For more information on the findings and a unique insight on children’s language in 2017, take a look at our infographics below:

Political language


Download the infographic [PDF]

Gaming language


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Superheroes

Download the infographic [PDF]

Social media


Download the infographic [PDF]