Macquarie Dictionary


Word of the Year 2020 from around the world

At the Macquarie Dictionary, we are preparing to announce which word survived the battle royale of 2020 to come out on top as Word of the Year. Cancel culture claimed the crown in 2019, while Me Too took the top prize in 2018

Although we can’t go there, I can confirm that the rest of the world still exists and that dictionaries from around the globe are announcing their Word of the Year winners.

Collins have announced their Word of the Year as lockdownUnsurprisingly, the pandemic looms large in their shortlist, with coronavirussocial distancingself-isolate and key worker all making their final selection, while furlough, a British government scheme similar to the Australian Jobkeeper program, also made the list.

It’s no surprise that quite a few of the words on Collins Word of the Year 2020 shortlist have one big thing in common: the pandemic. Something that changed everyone’s lives so profoundly – leaving no country or continent untouched – was bound to have a significant impact on our language.

BLMMEGxitTikToker and mukbang rounded out their shortlist. Mukbang featured on the Macquarie Dictionary shortlist for the ‘internet’ category in 2019

The Australian National Dictionary Centre have announced their Word of the Year as iso. 

Not only is iso distinctively Australian in usage, it has also been linguistically productive by combining with other words to form compounds such as iso bakingiso bariso cut, and iso fashion.

Once again, COVID loomed large in the selection with Covid-normal and bubble (as in travel bubble) making their shortlist alongside Black Summer and driveway, a reference to the ANZAC Day vigils Australians took part in as a replacement for the usual ANZAC Day dawn services. have named their Word of the Year as pandemic.

From our perspective as documenters of the English language, one word kept running through the profound and manifold ways our lives have been upended—and our language so rapidly transformed—in this unprecedented year. That word is pandemic, our 2020 Word of the Year.

We will keep this blog updated as announcements roll in from other dictionaries, including the Australian National Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Oxford Dictionary, the American Dialect Society and more. 

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