Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told AP that after the World Health Organization declared on March 11 the COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic, searches for the word on Merriam-Webster.com were 115,806% higher than for the same period in 2019.
Runners up for word of the year based on lookup surges related to the pandemic were “coronavirus,” “quarantine” and “asymptomatic,” per AP.
Non-virus considerations that saw spikes included “defund,” in relation to the “defund the police” campaign, “antebellum” after country group Lady A dropped the word from their name because of its association with pre-Civil War slavery.
If you were to choose a word that rose above most in 2020, which word would it be? Ding, ding, ding: Merriam-Webster announced “pandemic” as its 2020 word of the year.https://t.co/SVLooCCAu5
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 30, 2020