Cambridge Dictionary's Word of 2020 is 'Quarantine.' We Hope It Doesn't Continue in 2021

·2-min read

2020 has been a rocky year. For the most part, it pushed people indoors and it started a sense of panic for an invisible virus, which has seemed never-ending, and the promise of a vaccine seem indefinite.

It also brought to light a bunch of new terms, "Coronavirus" "pandemic" "Covid-19" "human-to-human transmission" "quarantine" "social distancing" and "self isolation."

Not only did these words become familiar, the actions associated with them did: covering your mouth when you sneeze, maintaining six feet and sanitizing your hand.

For Cambridge Dictionary, it's word of the year is one defining the pandemic: Quarantine. The dictionary’s editors said that it was the third most searched word of the year, after the words “hello” and “dictionary”, that recur almost every year.

“Quarantine” was searched for the most in between March 18 and 24, 2020 when restrictions began to be imposed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as per the dictionary.

Cambridge Dictionary has said that the word acquired new meaning during lockdown and has therefore been given an added 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," it reads.

Alongside “quarantine”, other coronavirus-related words, including “pandemic” and “lockdown”, ranked highly on Cambridge Dictionary’s most popular list for 2020.

There were also several new words added to the dictionary, including “HyFlex”, which is short for hybrid flexible, a term used to describe a style of teaching that sees some students participating in a class virtually while others are also there physically.

"Elbow bump" was also added as a way of referring to a friendly greeting that allows people to maintain social distancing.

A poll which asked readers to which words they think should be added to the dictionary this year, had the most common answers as “quaranteen” - a teenager in lockdown, “lockstalgia”, feeling nostalgic about lockdown, and “coronnial”, a person who was born during the coronavirus pandemic.