How do you pick one word to describe 2020? If you’re the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), you don’t! The OED (and other dictionaries) declares a Word of the Year every year. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has declared “pandemic” as its Word of the Year, but the OED went a step further by picking not one, but many Words of the Year. Why? There’s a method to the madness, but for the most part, dictionaries choose the word based on how often it’s searched for and used. This year, there wasn’t a single word that dominated the OED headlines, but rather many words. According to the OED’s report, aptly called the “Words of an Unprecedented Year,” many words became a part of our normal daily vocabulary because of the events that happened throughout the year. For example, it should be no surprise that words relating to the coronavirus, such as “COVID-19,” “lockdown,” and “social distancing” all made the Words of the Year list. Other words, such as “Black Lives Matter,” “bushfire,” “acquittal,” and “mail-in” also made the list as a result of the many significant and historical events that happened throughout the year. Oh, and if you’re wondering—yes—the word “unprecedented” also made the list.
If you could pick one word to describe 2020, what would it be? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.