Cambridge Dictionary reveals Word of the Year; it's 'quarantine'
Cambridge Dictionary has named 'quarantine' as the Word of the Year 2020; the year that saw people around the world being forced to remain isolated indoors in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 'Lockdown' and 'pandemic' turned out to be runner-ups for Word of the Year, the dictionary noted, saying that searches were more focused on the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
Why did Cambridge Dictionary pick 'quarantine'?
'Quarantine' was the only word that ranked among the top five in both overall views and search spikes in 2020, the dictionary said. It said the word had been viewed over 1,83,000 times on its platform by early November. The largest spike in word search was observed between March 18-24, when the pandemic was starting to take hold in several countries around the world.
What is the definition of 'quarantine'?
The dictionary defined 'quarantine' as a period of time when a person/animal—diseased or suspected to be diseased—must be isolated to prevent further spread. After researching the word's usage in 2020, the dictionary added a new definition: "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."
'Words reveal what matters most to people'
Wendalyn Nichols, the Publishing Manager of the Cambridge Dictionary, 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."
'Lockdown' and 'pandemic' were runner-ups
The dictionary said that "lockdown" and "pandemic" were two runner-ups for Word of the Year. However, the words "coronavirus" and "COVID-19" did not feature among the top words people searched for on Cambridge Dictionary. The dictionary said this indicated that its users are "fairly confident" about what the virus is, and are more focused on its socio-economic impact.
'HyFlex' and 'elbow bump' new words added to dictionary
Other new words added to the dictionary were 'HyFlex' which is short for "hybrid flexible." It is used to describe a style of teaching where some students attend classes virtually while others are present physically. 'Elbow bump'—a common style of greeting in 2020—was also added.
What were the Words of the Year in recent past?
Last year, the Cambridge Dictionary had named 'upcycling' as Word of the Year. 'Upcycling' is defined as "the activity of making new furniture, objects, etc., out of old or used things or waste material." 'Nomophobia' had been named Word of the Year in 2018, preceded by 'populism' in 2017, 'paranoid' in 2016', and 'austerity' in 2015.
What is Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year?
Earlier, the Oxford English Dictionary had announced that it found it impossible to name any single 'Word of the Year'. The dictionary highlighted the words 'furlough', 'bushfires', 'WFH' (work from home), 'lockdown', 'moonshot', along with new entries 'COVID-19', 'blursday', and 'covidiot'.