I think one thing we can all agree on is – this is a year of firsts. One of those - the first year that the Oxford Dictionary did not name their “Word Of The Year.” That’s because there were so many words to describe 2020 and it was too difficult to choose just one. In this blog, I will only be discussing those words that are fit to print….
The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that has attracted a great deal of interest over the last 12 months. Every year, The Oxford Dictionary folks debate candidates for word of the year and choose a winner that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.
According to The Guardian “The dictionary said that there were too many words to sum up the events of 2020. Tracking its vast corpus of more than 11bn words found in web-based news, blogs and other text sources, its lexicographers revealed what the dictionary described as ‘seismic shifts in language data and precipitous frequency rises in new coinage’ over the past 12 months.” Coinage – now there’s a great word!
This year coronavirus was one of the most used words and has been around since the ‘60s. But COVID 19 is a new one that soared to the top of the list. The use of the word pandemic rose by 57,000%. Other COVID related words were lockdown, shelter-in-place, remotely, mute, and unmute. While it didn’t make the list, I think Zoom should be included! Before March, how many of us ever actually used Zoom or even knew what it was?
Beyond the pandemic, many other things happened in 2020 which kicked up the use of old words as well as some new ones. Some oldies but goodies were impeachment and acquittal. The new ones included BLM and QAnon. I was quite disappointed that amid did not make the list. (See previous blog post about this). If only I had a dollar for every time I heard that word this year, I believe I could afford to buy a new Porsche Taycan!
In my opinion 2020 is a year that is best viewed in the rearview mirror. And, like 20/20 vision, let’s hope we can move forward with better insight into a number of topics. For 2021, maybe the Oxford Dictionary will announce, once again, they couldn’t choose just one word. And wouldn't it be great if the choices were health, prosperity, hope, vaccine, and kindness?