Oxford Dictionaries have expanded their Word of the Year to an entire list after an ‘unprecedented’ 12 months.
Language developed as rapidly as our lives changed in 2020 and the expanded list reflects the new additions to our everyday lexicon.
From covidiot, superspreader and moonshot, the words have been chosen to reflect the ‘ethos, mood, or preoccupations’ of 2020.
The ‘Words of an Unprecedented Year’ report also includes
There were words to reflect the
Words like superspreader have been chosen to reflect the ‘ethos, mood, or preoccupations’ of 2020 in the Oxford Dictionaries’ choices (pictured: file photo)
While informal phrases coined over the past year, known as neologisms, also made the final submission.
These included Blursday, defined as when you have no idea what day of the week it is, covidiot, a person who disobeys guidelines designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and the informal term for the virus, rona.
Casper Grathwohl, the president of Oxford Dictionaries, told The BBC: ‘I’ve never witnessed a year in language like the one we’ve just had.
‘The Oxford team was identifying hundreds of significant new words and usages as the year unfolded, dozens of which would have been a slam dunk for Word of the Year at any other time.
‘It’s both unprecedented and a little ironic – in a year that left us speechless, 2020 has been filled with new words unlike any other.’
Other words included on the list reflected our growing use of technology as people increasingly worked from home, with words like unmute, Zoombombing and furlough making the list
Previous examples of Word of the Year include vape, selfie and post-truth, with the ‘crying with tears’ emoji deemed the winner in 2015.
The report says usage of the word pandemic increased by 57,000% last year while lexicographers found use of the word ‘coronavirus’ passed one of the most frequently used nouns, time, in April.
It said: ‘Of course, Covid-19 and all its related vocabulary provided a clear focus for our language monitoring this year but there were many other areas of activity which saw enormous language change and were equally demanding of our attention, such as political and economic volatility, social activism, the environment and the rapid uptake of new technologies and behaviours to support remote working and living.
‘We also cast our net wide to capture how English around the world expressed its own view, sometimes sharing the collective expressions for the phenomena endured globally this year, and at other times using regionally specific words and usages.
‘All of which goes to illustrate that 2020 is a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single ‘word of the year’.’
Covidiot was one of the ‘neologisms’ or informal words coined in the past 12 months to make it onto the list to reflect the people who flunked rules imposed to curb the pandemic (Pictured: file photo)
Other terms which have seen a surge in use this year include unmute, referring to people making themselves audible during online conferences, and Zoombombing, a variant on photobombing which was first recorded as a word in 2008, and refers to disturbing online calls on Zoom.
Oxford University Press said it used ‘evidence-based data’ to source this year’s top words and language developments.
The report added: ‘There is no doubt the volatile events of 2020 have had an unprecedented impact on the way we live and work, specifically Covid-19, which has drastically altered our daily lives and our language.
‘Trends identified in our corpus data revealed extraordinary spikes in usage for words, both old and new, relating to the pandemic.
‘We saw new words emerge, and historical words resurface with new significance, as the English language developed rapidly to keep pace with the political upheaval and societal tensions that defined the year.’
Blursday, cancel culture and domscrolling: The full Oxford Word of the Year list
allyship n. active support for the rights of a minority or marginalized group without being a member of it
anthropause n. a global slowdown of travel and other human activities
anti-masker n. a person who opposes the wearing of face masks
anti-vaxxer n. a person who is opposed to vaccination
BC. before Covid/before coronavirus
Black Lives Matter n. a movement formed to campaign against systemic racism and violence against black people blended learning n. a style of education in which students learn via electronic and online media as well as traditional face-to-face teaching
BLM. Black Lives Matter
Blursday n. a day of the week that is indistinguishable from any other
bubble n. (during an outbreak of an infectious disease) a restricted group of people whose members are allowed to be in close proximity when maintaining a physical distance is otherwise required
cancel culture n. a culture in which there is a widespread practice of publicly rejecting or withdrawing support from people or things regarded as promoting socially unacceptable views
circuit breaker n. (a) an automatic device for stopping the flow of current in an electric circuit as a safety measure; (b) an automatic, temporary halt placed on stock trading, typically as a means of inhibiting panic selling; (c) a short period of lockdown intended to inhibit the spread of an infectious disease
community transmission n. transmission of an infectious disease or pathogen between members of a community, especially as a result of casual contact
coronavirus n. any of a group of RNA viruses that cause a variety of respiratory, gastrointestinal, and neurological diseases in humans and other animals; (specifically) a coronavirus responsible for an outbreak of serious respiratory disease in humans, especially the major pandemic beginning in 2019
Covid-19 n. an acute disease in humans caused by a coronavirus, which is characterized mainly by fever and cough and is capable of progressing to pneumonia, respiratory and renal failure, blood coagulation abnormalities, and death, especially in the elderly and people with underlying health conditions; (also) the coronavirus that causes this disease
covidiot n. (depreciative) a person who disobeys guidelines designed to prevent the spread of Covid-19
decolonize v. to free (an institution, sphere of activity, etc.) from the cultural or social effects of colonization
defund v. to cease to fund (something)
doomscrolling n. the action of compulsively scrolling through social media or news feeds which relate bad news
flatten the curve v. to take measures designed to reduce the rate at which infection spreads during an epidemic, with the aim of lowering the peak daily number of new cases and extending the period over which new cases occur
furlough originally associated with members of the armed forces going on leave, and was chiefly used in the US. In March and April 2020 though, when it started to be used in other countries as employers were given grants to pay employees who were not working, usage shot up
hygiene theatre n. cleaning practices which give the illusion of sanitization without reducing the risk of infection
infodemic n. a proliferation of diverse, often unsubstantiated information relating to a crisis, controversy, or event, which disseminates rapidly and uncontrollably through news, online, and social media, and is regarded as intensifying public speculation or anxiety
Juneteenth n. 19 June, celebrated as a holiday commemorating the emancipation of African-American slaves in Texas on that date in 1865.
learning modality n. a method of delivery of teaching and learning
lockdown n. a state of isolation, containment, or restricted access, usually instituted for security purposes or as a public health measure; the imposition of this state
mail-in adj. designating ballots, surveys, etc., in which results are collected by mail
moonshot n. an extremely ambitious and innovative project
net zero n. a target of completely negating the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human activity, to be achieved by reducing emissions and implementing methods of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
pandemic n. a disease which is epidemic over a very large area and affects a large proportion of a population; an outbreak of such a disease
personal protective equipment n. clothing and equipment designed to provide the wearer or user protection against hazardous substances or environments, or to prevent transmission of infectious diseases
plandemic n. a planned pandemic
PPE = personal protective equipment
R number n. reproduction number, the average number of cases of an infectious disease arising by transmission from a single infected individual
rona n. (informal) coronavirus; Covid-19
sanny n. (chiefly Australian) hand sanitizer
self-isolate v. to undertake self-imposed isolation for a period of time, typically in one’s own home, in order to avoid catching or transmitting an infectious disease, or as one of a number of public health measures designed to inhibit its spread
social distancing n. the action or practice of maintaining a certain physical distance from, or limiting physical contact with, another person or people (especially family and friends), especially in order to avoid catching or transmitting an infectious disease, or as one of a number of public health measures designed to inhibit its spread
superspreader n. an individual infected with a (pathogenic) microorganism who transmits it to an unusually large number of other individuals
systemic racism n. discrimination or unequal treatment on the basis of membership of a particular ethnic group (typically one that is a minority or marginalized), arising from systems, structures, or expectations that have become established within society or an institution
take a knee v. to go down on one knee as a peaceful means of protesting against racism
twindemic n. the simultaneous occurrence of two pandemics
unmute v. to turn on (a microphone or the audio on an electronic device), especially after having temporarily turned it off
Veronica bucket n. a type of sanitation equipment consisting of a covered bucket with a tap fixed at the bottom and a bowl fitted below to collect wastewater
virtue-signalling n. (depreciative) the public expression of opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue
wet market n. (South-East Asian) a market for the sale of fresh meat, fish, and produce
wokeness n. the fact or quality of being alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice
workation n. a working vacation; a holiday during which one also works
Zoombombing n. the practice of infiltrating video conference calls on the Zoom application, and posting violent, pornographic, or offensive content