You can easily guess Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year.
After months of quarantine, social distancing, and quarreling with fellow mask-wearing shoppers over the last pack of toilet paper at the supermarket (we all saw it!), we can’t imagine another word that’s become more synonymous with 2020 than “pandemic.” Merriam-Webster agrees, and it made the official declaration Monday morning (November 30).
“That probably isn’t a big shock,” Merriam-Webster’s Editor at Large, Peter Sokolowski, told The Associated Press. “Often the big news story has a technical word that’s associated with it and in this case, the word pandemic is not just technical but has become general. It’s probably the word by which we’ll refer to this period in the future.”
Unsurprisingly, “coronavirus” was the second runner-up for Word of the Year, with words like “quarantine” and “asymptomatic” trailing closely behind.
In Merriam-Webster’s definition, pandemic means: “occurring over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affecting a significant proportion of the population.” With Latin and Greek origins, the word combines “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for people or population.
The term reached global notoriety in March when the coronavirus outbreak touched down in the United States and has continued to wreak both health- and economic-related havoc on the nation. Today, 13.4 million cases of coronavirus and 267,000 deaths linked to the novel disease have been reported in the U.S. alone.