Vax selected as the word of the year

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has selected ‘vax’ as the word of the year.

The word was selected by the OED’s expert lexicographers from the dictionary’s Language Content and Data department.

According to lexicographers, all vaccine-related words have spiked in frequency this year.

However they say the most striking word is vax.

“For lexicographers, it is rare to observe a single topic impact language so dramatically, and in such a short period of time become a critical part of our everyday communication. As reports of medical breakthroughs and rollouts (or strollouts) of vaccines emerged throughout the year, Oxford Languages’ monitor corpus of English tracked a worldwide surge in vaccinerelated vocabulary,” read a report produced by Oxford Languages

“The word vax (a colloquialism meaning either vaccine or vaccination as a noun and vaccinate as a verb) registered a particularly precipitous increase in frequency,” added the report.

Other new words (neologisms) coined during the pandemic such as inoculati, anti-faxxers, vaxxies, have also seen a spike in usage.

However, these words are not expected to last, with Oxford Languages citing this as the reason they have not been included into many dictionaries.

Nonetheless, these new non words provide a “lexical snapshot” of the concerns of the year.

This year’s word, vax, was first recorded in English in 1799, while its derivatives vaccinate and vaccination both first appear in 1800.

Oxford English Dictionary definitions for vax:

  • vax n. A vaccine or vaccination
  • vax v. Treat (someone) with a vaccine to produce immunity against a disease; vaccinate
  • vaxxie n. A photograph of oneself taking during or immediately before or after a vaccination, especially one against Covid-19, and typically shared on social media; a vaccination selfie
  • anti-vax adj. Opposed to vaccination
  • anti-vaxxer n. A person who is opposed to vaccination