Cambridge Dictionary has revealed its word of the pandemic-stricken year as “quarantine”. The dictionary’s editors said that it was the third most searched word of the year, after the words “hello” and “dictionary”, that recur almost every year.
“Quarantine” was searched for the most in between March 18 and 24, 2020 when restrictions began to be imposed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as per the dictionary. It also stated that the word was chosen since it acquired a new meaning during the lockdown.
“A general period of time in which people are not allowed to leave their homes or travel freely so that they do not catch or spread a disease,” read the dictionary’s meaning to the word.
Not just “quarantine”, other coronavirus-related words, including “pandemic” and “lockdown”, ranked on the dictionary’s most popular list for 2020.
Next week we will be announcing our highly anticipated #WordoftheYear for 2020!
— Cambridge Dictionary (@CambridgeWords) November 21, 2020
Other new words added to the dictionary were “HyFlex”, short for hybrid flexible, a term used to describe a style of teaching that sees some students participating in a class virtually while others are also there physically; “Elbow bump” or a friendly greeting that allows people to maintain social distancing.
Wendalyn Nichols, Cambridge Dictionary publishing manager, said, “The words that people search for reveal not just what is happening in the world, but what matters most to them in relation to those events.”
“Neither coronavirus nor Covid-19 appeared among the words that Cambridge Dictionary users searched for most this year.
“We believe this indicates that people have been fairly confident about what the virus is.
“Instead, users have been searching for words related to the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, as evidenced not just by ‘quarantine’ but by the two runners-up on the shortlist for Word of the Year: ‘lockdown’, and ‘pandemic’ itself.”
Cambridge Dictionary’s announcement comes after the Oxford English Dictionary revealed its words of the year, announcing for the first time that it has found it impossible to name any single “word of the year”.
Among the words chosen this year were furlough, bushfires, WFH, lockdown, moonshot and new coinages like Covid-19, blursday and covidiot.