No Real Surprise As Dictionaries Pick 2020’s Word of the Year
Who could have guessed? If you were to sum up the year 2020 in one word, what would it be? Quarantine? Defund? Malarky? Not quite. Two major dictionary companies have come to the same conclusion. The word? Pandemic. You're probably tired of hearing it, but WNYT is reporting that both Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com picked the word we have heard nearly nonstop since late February as 2020's word of the year. Dictionary.com defines pandemic as:
noun: -a disease prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world.
Editor at Large Peter Sokolowsk, from Merriam-Webster, told The Associated Press:
Often the big news story has a technical word that's associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It's probably the word by which we'll refer to this period in the future.
John Kelly, senior research editor at Dictionary.com said that searches on their site for pandemic spiked more than 13,500% on March 11 alone. It really comes as no surprise then that this was the term that dominated headlines this year.
Oxford Languages couldn't come up with justy one term, so instead they issued a 16-page report laying out a whole host of once specialized terms that came to the mainstream amid the COVID-19 crisis, according to WNYT. Basically, they couldn't sum it up in one word.
Merriam has been naming the Word of the Year since 2003 using page hit and other data from their website. Such past winners were admonish in 2009, science in 2013, justice in 2018, and even a gender neutral they in 2019. They've even chosen to make irregardless an official word, much to the chagrin of many.