Can You Guess the Word of the Year for 2020?
Put on your thinking caps...If you had to choose just one single to be the "Word of the Year" for 2020, what word would you choose? I'm sure most of us would choose a word related to the coronavirus...and we'd be correct!
On Monday, November 30th, 2020, Merriam-Webster announced that the word “pandemic” would be their 2020 "Word of the Year". Their choice was based on "a statistical analysis of words that are looked up in extremely high numbers in our online dictionary while also showing a significant year-over-year increase in traffic,"
It is interesting to track the searches for the word and follow the timeline of the coronavirus. According to the Merriam-Webster website: "The first big spike in dictionary lookups for "pandemic" took place on February 3rd, the same day that the first COVID-19 patient in the U.S. was released from a Seattle hospital. That day, "pandemic" was looked up 1,621% more than it had been a year previous, but close inspection of the dictionary data shows that searches for the word had begun to tick up consistently starting on January 20th, the date of the first positive case in the U.S."
Then, on March 11th, when the World Health Organization officially declared that COVID-19 could be characterized as a pandemic, the word "pandemic" saw the single largest spike in dictionary traffic in 2020, showing an increase of 115,806% over lookups on that day in 2019! The word has remained high in lookups ever since, staying near the top of Merriam-Webster's search list for the past ten months.
What words were also in the running? As expected, "coronavirus" was among runners up for "Word of the Year". Other words on the list included quarantine, asymptomatic, mamba, kraken, defund, antebellum, regardless, icon, schadenfreude, and malarkey. Searches for those words spiked around specific news events.
You can read more about Merriam-Webster's choice of "pandemic" for the 2020 "Word of the Year" on their website.
And in case you need the definition of the pandemic and want to learn more about the word, here is the link for that.
Make sure that you use the word "pandemic" in a sentence today. That shouldn't be too tough for most of us.