Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster on Monday introduced “pandemic” as its 2020 phrase of the yr.
“That most likely isn’t a giant shock,” Peter Sokolowski, editor at giant for Merriam-Webster, informed The Related Press.
“Typically the massive information story has a technical phrase that’s related to it and on this case, the phrase pandemic is not only technical however has turn into basic. It’s most likely the phrase by which we’ll consult with this era sooner or later,” he mentioned.
The phrase took on pressing specificity in March, when the coronavirus disaster was designated a pandemic, however it began to development up on Merriam-Webster.com as early January and once more in February when the primary U.S. deaths and outbreaks on cruise ships occurred.
On March 11, when the World Well being Group declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a world pandemic, lookups on the positioning for pandemic spiked vastly. Website curiosity for the phrase has remained considerably excessive by means of the yr, Sokolowski mentioned.
By enormous, Sokolowski means searches for pandemic on March 11 have been 115,806% larger than lookups skilled on the identical date final yr.
Pandemic, with roots in Latin and Greek, is a mix of “pan,” for all, and “demos,” for folks or inhabitants. The latter is similar root of “democracy,” Sokolowski famous. The phrase pandemic dates to the mid-1600s, used broadly for “common” and extra particularly to illness in a medical textual content within the 1660s, he mentioned.
That was after the plagues of the Center Ages, Sokolowski mentioned.
He attributes the lookup site visitors for pandemic not fully to searchers who didn’t know what it meant but additionally to these on the hunt for extra element, or for inspiration or consolation.
“We see that the phrase love is regarded up round Valentine’s Day and the phrase cornucopia is regarded up at Thanksgiving,” Sokolowski mentioned. “We see a phrase like surreal spiking when a second of nationwide tragedy or shock happens. It’s the thought of dictionaries being the start of placing your ideas so as.”
Merriam-Webster acted rapidly in March so as to add and replace entries on its website for phrases associated to the pandemic. Whereas “coronavirus” had been within the dictionary for many years, “COVID-19” was coined in February. Thirty-four days later, Merriam-Webster had it up on-line, together with a pair dozen different entries that have been revised to replicate the well being emergency.