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The opposite of 'lock' is quite clearly 'unlock'.

But what is the single-word opposite of 'lockdown' ?

The family were relieved when the time came to _________________.

EDIT : The comment is noted that this looks for a verb.

I would also accept a noun in the following sentence :

The family were relieved when the time came for ________________.

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    Note that lockdown (as a single word) is a noun, so assuming its opposite is also a noun it wouldn't fit in your example sentence.
    – nnnnnn
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 7:13
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    Lifted. The family was relieved when the lockdown was lifted.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 7:31

5 Answers 5

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Some people in the UK and India have been using the word "unlockdown" as the opposite of lockdown.

For example, see this Sunday Times article on "The Great Unlockdown", referring to reversal of the lockdown that had been imposed due to COVID 19.

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    Accepted according to the Sunday Times reference and usage. Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 16:15
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With respect to lifting the lockdown of COVID-19, the news uses the word reopen:

[Merriam-Webster]
: to open again
  // school reopens in September
  // The Bay Area’s ink industry has been on hiatus since March, and plans to reopen tattoo shops this week have been paused again after a recent surge in coronavirus cases.
— Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: Raising the minimum wage amid the pandemic," 1 July 2020

In the example sentence in the question:

The family were relieved when the time came to reopen.

It would most likely be followed by some kind of noun, such as the economy or businesses.


If talking about social activities specifically, a more common word to pair with it is resume:

2 : to return to or begin (something) again after interruption
    // She resumed her work.
    // When official mourning was over, Soviet television resumed its normal pace.
    — Bel Kaufman

With the example sentence again:

The family were relieved when the time came to resuming social activities.

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Most recent uses of lockdown refer to the imposition of restriction of personal movement, and similar edicts.

I suggest that authorities let up on these restrictions (or even let up on them). It has a convenient mirroring on lock down.

informal (of something undesirable) become less intense.
Relax one's efforts.
let up on informal Treat in a more lenient manner.

Oxford/Lexico

The family were relieved when the time came to let up.

The noun form lockdown has its counterpart in let-up — this hasn't lost its hyphen yet.

A pause or reduction in the intensity of something dangerous, difficult, or tiring

Ibid.

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  • Up-voted. That was one of my own initial thoughts : that a lockdown is something enforced by authority. Therefore its opposite must relate to the authority itself, not to that which is authorised.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 21:51
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The opposite of lockdown is actually called freedom. Like in your sentence above it is better said like this: The family were relieved when the time came for freedom

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' Normalcy or Normality ', I think , could be the appropriate word in this context

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    While this answer is somewhat inelegantly worded, there is an important point behind it: the language has a word for a lockdown, because that is an unusual, noteworthy state of affairs, but one should not expect there to be an exact opposite for it, because there is nothing remarkable about non-lockdowns. Languages need specific words for specific abnormalities, but they don't always need specific words for the absences of specific abnormalities.
    – jsw29
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 20:31

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