Pandemic, COVID, Anderhalvemetersamenleving: 2020 Words of the Year

It's the Oscars of the language word: word-of-the-year data analysis and voting!

Mignon Fogarty
1-minute read
Episode #803
The Quick And Dirty
  • Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com both chose "pandemic" as the word of the year.
  • Oxford Dictionaries declined to choose a word of the year.
  • The American Dialect Society chose "COVID" as the word of the year (but "2020" was a close second).

Emily Brewster is a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster and a cohost of the Word Matters podcast. 

In this interview, we talked about 

  • How Merriam-Webster chose "pandemic" as the word of the year.
  • How other dictionaries choose words of the year (and how Oxford didn't choose a word this year).
  • How the American Dialect Society chooses its words of the year (with fun stories since Emily and Mignon both attended the vote).
  • Words of the year in countries outside the U.S., such as "Megxit" and "anderhalvemetersamenleving."

You can listen to the interview using the player at the top of this page, or you can read a complete rough transcript.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.