Word remained near top of dictionary’s word list for 10 months
Pandemic has been declared the Word of the Year 2020 by Merriam-Webster.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a “pandemic” as an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population.
“Sometimes a single word defines an era and it’s fitting that in this exceptional — and exceptionally difficult — year, a single word came immediately to the fore as we examined the data that determines what our Word of the Year will be,” said Merriam-Webster’s official website.
Searches for the word marked a consistent uptick ever since January 20, when the first positive COVID-19 case was detected in the US and the first big spike in dictionary searchers for “pandemic” took place on February 3 (1,621 per cent more than last year), when the first patient in the US was released from a Seattle hospital. The number continued to grow and by early March there was an average increase of 4,000 per cent over 2019 levels. March 11 was the day the word saw the single largest spike in dictionary traffic in 2020 as WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Searches for the word increased by 1,15,806 per cent from 2019.
What makes this trend stand out is that searches for “pandemic” have remained near the top of Merriam-Webster’s word list for 10 months, while other terms such as coronavirus and COVID-19 have fallen.
You can find Merriam-Webster’s entire list of words for 2020 here.
Earlier this month, the Collins Dictionary had chosen “lockdown” as its word of the year.
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