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‘Pandemic’ dominates search terms and becomes Word of the Year

After the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic in March, searches for the term skyrocketed. Eight months and over 62 million global cases later, two dictionaries have chosen “pandemic” as the 2020 Word of the and Merriam-Webster both chose the word of the year based on search trends. It is intended to be a word that defines the past year.

COVID-19 drove record searches on for words like “asymptomatic,” “nonessential” and “quarantine.”

“The pandemic has changed everything, including our language,” John Kelly, senior research editor at, said in a news release.

Kelly said that among all these words, pandemic is the one that defined life in 2020.

“All other events of the year, big and small, happened in the literal terms of the pandemic: how people voted, protested, or evacuated fires and hurricanes during the pandemic, for example,” he said. “The pandemic economy, pandemic schooling, taking up pandemic baking...

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