Dictionary.com has declared “pandemic” its 2020 word of the year.
Senior research editor John Kelly said that searches for the word spiked more than 13,500% on March 11 when compared with 2019.
March 11 was the day that the World Health Organisation declared the health emergency over the coronavirus global pandemic.
Parents had to sit their children down to explain the word at the start of 2020 as related terms usually restricted to medicine and science stormed into everyday chat.
Over time, people were pandemic baking, pandemic dating and rescuing pandemic puppies from shelters.
All of which led Dictionary.com to declare “pandemic” its word of the year.
Mr Kelly said the jump in searches for pandemic on March 11 was “massive”, adding: “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 look-ups.”
Another dictionary, Merriam-Webster, also selected pandemic as its word of the year.
Mr Kelly said pandemic beat routine searches usually intended to sort more mundane matters, such as the differences between “to, two and too”.
“That’s significant,” he emphasised. “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. The pandemic as an event created a new language for a new normal.”
Asymptomatic, furlough, non-essential, hydroxychloroquine and a host of other pandemic-related words saw massive increases in searches as well.
A pandemic is defined by Dictionary.com as a disease “prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world; epidemic over a large area”.