‘Pandemic’ is named Word of the Year by Merriam-Webster

Searches for ‘pandemic’ jumped 115,806 per cent in March alone, so it comes as no surprise that it was declared the word of the year.

Shoppers wearing face masks walk in a crowded street in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 17.

‘Pandemic’ was selected  as the word of the year based on a statistical analysis of words that are looked up in extremely high numbers, Merriam-Webster stated in a release today (November 30).

The American publisher noted that the first big spike in lookups for pandemic took place on February 3rd, the same day the first COVID-19 patient in the US was released from a Seattle hospital. 

On that date, pandemic was searched 1,621% more than it had been a year previous.

Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a combination of “pan” for all, and “demos,” for people or population.

The dictionary was also revised in April 2020 to include the new word ‘COVID-19’ which was coined in February. The dictionary maker also said it updated some entries to reflect the medical emergency.
“That’s the shortest period of time we’ve ever seen a word go from coinage to entry,”  said Peter Sokolowski, editor of Merriam-Webster.

Merriam-Webster also noted that among this year’s top ten words included ‘coronavirus’, ‘kraken’, ‘Schadenfreude’ and ‘defund’.