On Monday two of the world-renowned US dictionaries have chosen the same word of the year Pandemic. Both Merriam Webster and Dictionary.com made their choices after Oxford languages issued a 16-page report on which number of once-specialized terms that have entered the mainstream in the year 2020 during the coronavirus crisis.
Oxford Languages said that the challenges of 2020 have, “brought a new immediacy and urgency to the role of the lexicographer. In almost real-time, lexicographers were able to monitor and analyze seismic shifts in language data and precipitous frequency rises in new coinages”. Since the year 2020 has brought about a lot of changes in the English language it is extremely difficult to pin-point one single word as the word of the year, the report went on to say.
Both Merriam Webster and Dictionary.com disagreed with Oxford. According to the statistics over the past few months, the search of the word pandemic has been over 1,000%. For half of the year, the word pandemic was in the 10% words searched on Dictionary.com.
Peter Sokolowski, editor at Merriam-Webster said, “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.”
At Merriam-Webster on March 11th 2020, the word pandemic had a spike of 115,806% more than it did on the same date last year. The word Pandemic dates back to the mid 1600s used broadly to describe something that is universal and more specifically to describe a disease in medical context after the plague of the 1600s. Words associated with pandemic were also seen on the rise, such as social distancing, herd immunity and aersole.