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December 1, 2020

‘Pandemic’ 2020 word of the year

World

 
December 1, 2020

NEW YORK: On Dec. 31, China reported a cluster of pneumonia cases of unknown origin to the World Health Organization. By Jan. 31, WHO declared an outbreak of a novel coronavirus a global health emergency. Come March 11, the world was facing down the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents sat children down to explain what a pandemic is. Related terms usually restricted to medicine and science stormed into everyday conversation. Over time, we were pandemic baking and pandemic dating and rescuing pandemic puppies from shelters.

All of which led Dictionary.com on Monday to declare “pandemic” its 2020 word of the year. Searches on the site for the word spiked more than 13,500% on March 11, senior research editor John Kelly told foreign media in an interview ahead of the announcement.

“That’s massive, but even more telling is how high it has sustained significant search volumes throughout the entire year. Month over month, it was over 1,000% higher than usual. For about half the year, it was in the top 10% of all our lookups.” Another dictionary, Merriam-Webster, also selected pandemic as its word of the year earlier Monday. Kelly said pandemic beat out routine lookups usually intended to sort more mundane matters, such as the differences between “to, two and too.”

That’s significant,” Kelly emphasized. “It seems maybe a little bit obvious, and that’s fair to say, but think about life before the pandemic. Things like pandemic fashion would have made no sense.