‘Knuffelcontact’ is Flemish Word of the Year

The people of Flanders have elected the word ‘knuffelcontact’ as their Word of the Year.  ‘Knuffelcontact’ means hug buddy or cuddle contact in English and has become a basic right for every Belgian during the corona crisis.

Every Belgian is allowed one knuffelcontact, who is permitted to enter the home while all other outsiders are banned from doing so.  It’s a personal right, but only one knuffelcontact may be admitted to the household at the same time.  Social distancing with a knuffelcontact is not required.

The word that is now famous from China to Ukraine received over half of the 25,000 votes cast in the annual competition organised by Van Dale, the publishers of the famous Dutch language dictionary, and the Flemish public broadcaster VRT.  Dutch is the language spoken by a majority of the people of Belgium.  There are some 23 million speakers of Dutch in Belgium, the Netherlands and Suriname.

VRT’s language adviser Ruud Hendrickx termed “knuffelcontact”a beautiful, warm word that filled a gap in our vocabulary and was immediately adopted by all”.

In Francophone Belgium the rather unemotional term ‘contact rapproché (‘close contact’) is used.

Knuffelcontact came home ahead of covidiot and a word for the shame you experience when coughing.

Knuffelcontact first came to prominence in October when Belgian health minister Frank Vandenbroucke explained the new government’s latest corona measures in an interview with political editor Linda De Win on VRT TV.

Top stories