2021 Words of the Year
To define a whole year with just a single word, Merriam-Webster uses data to determine what the top word for that year was. Unsurprisingly, Merriam-Webster chose “pandemic” for their 2020 word of the year and selected “vaccine” for 2021. Likewise, Oxford Languages announced that its word of the year was “vax.”
Vaccine – 2021’s Word of the Year
It’s no surprise that “vaccine” is 2021’s word of the year and that it’s the most fitting word to follow up “pandemic.”According to Merriam-Webster, the number of searches for the word “vaccine” increased 601% year-over-year from 2020. Lookups for “vaccine” throughout the pandemic increased by 535% in August.
Other Popular Words in 2021
While the word “vaccine” attracted a great deal of attention this year, it wasn’t the only popular word. Merriam-Webster also provided a list of other words that were prominent.
- Insurrection – an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.
- Perseverance – NASA’s Mars rover.
- Woke – aware of injustices in society.
- Nomad – 2021’s Best Picture at the Oscar Awards.
- Infrastructure – President Biden’s infrastructure plan.
- Cicada – large insects that make a loud, shrill noise.
- Murraya – the winning word of this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee.
- Cisgender – a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person was assigned at birth.
- Guardian – the new name of Cleveland’s professional baseball team.
- Meta – the new company name of the former Facebook, Inc.
Other companies also announced their top word of 2021: Dictionary.com announced their word for 2021 was allyship – someone who advocates for marginalized groups. Collins Dictionary selected NFT, the abbreviation for cryptocurrency non-fungible token, for their word of the year.
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