Lockdown is a closed compound word. A compound word is a word derived from two or more separate words used together to create another word. Compound words are new words that have a different meaning than the definitions of the original words. Compound words are usually composed of two nouns, or an adjective and a noun. New compound words usually consist of two or more separate words, and are called open compound words. Midway through their evolution, compound words may acquire hyphens between the two or more words. A hyphenated compound word is a compound that is composed of two or more words linked by hyphens. Hyphenated compound words are the most likely type of compound words to be composed of two adjectives or two verbs. Hyphenated compound words are often coined by writers, as J.K. Rowling did when she created the phrase He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named to describe Lord Voldemort. In general, hyphenated compound words are midway on the journey between being rendered as separate words to being rendered as one word. When a compound becomes a closed compound word, which consists of two or more words joined without any hyphen or space, it has usually been in use for a long time. The advent of the internet has sped up the process of becoming a closed compound word. Understanding words that are compound words will expand one’s basic English vocabulary. We will examine the meaning of the word lockdown, its etymology, and some examples of its use in a sentence or two.

A lockdown is a situation in which people are restricted from moving from place to place or within a certain area to protect their safety or health. For instance, if an intruder is detected in a school, the school may go into lockdown until the intruder is apprehended. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries have gone into lockdown for different periods of time to mitigate the spread of the disease. The word lockdown is a closed compound word derived from the verb, lock, and the adverb, down. Lockdown is a noun; the verb form is lock down, with a space between the two words. The word lockdown was first used in the 1800s in reference to machinery; it came into use in the United States in the 1970s in reference to restricting movement in a prison during a dangerous situation. The word lockdown was declared the word of the year by the Collins Dictionary in 2020.


Soaked with rain, relief and alcohol, the reopening marked the easing of one of the world’s toughest lockdowns. (Washington Post)

The Moorabool shire and Shepparton were to enter seven-day lockdowns from 11.59pm on Friday 1 October. (The Guardian)

Two people were arrested after Saydel High School was briefly placed on lockdown Tuesday morning on reports that a weapon had been found in a vehicle loitering in the school’s parking lot. (Des Moines Register)

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