The Words of the Year 2020

Every year, a word is named by dictionary publishing organizations as the Word of the Year, after subjecting it certain criteria.

This year too, the Word of the year from leading dictionaries such as Oxford, Merriam Webster, Cambridge and Collins were announced; and most of them had no greater usage prior to 2020.

Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year- Pandemic.

“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.”, MW said.

Cambridge’s Word of the Year – Quarantine.

“Quarantine was the only word to rank in the top five for both search spikes and overall views (more than 183,000 by early November), with the largest spike in searches (28,545) seen the week of 18-24 March, when many countries around the world went into lockdown as a result of COVID-19.”, Cambridge Dictionaries said.

Collins’ Word of the Year – Lockdown.

“Our lexicographers chose ‘lockdown’ as Word of the Year because it is a unifying experience for billions of people across the world, who have had, collectively, to play their part in combating the spread of COVID-19. Collins registered over a quarter of a million usages of ‘lockdown’ during 2020, against only 4,000 the previous year.”

Oxford’s “Words of an Unprecedented Year”:

Oxford Dictionary did not give one word (like it would traditionally), instead highlighted several words as the Words of an Unprecedented Year – such as
Covid-19, Lockdown, social distancing, face masks, PPE, frontliners, reopening, pre-COVID, post-COVID, Unmute.