Sometimes a single word defines an era, and it’s fitting that in this exceptional—and exceptionally difficult—year, a single word came immediately to the fore.
So began dictionary Merriam-Webster’s post describing the data-driven decision to make “pandemic” its word of the year. It’s a good word! We said it a lot, thought about it some more, and then looked it up to make sure we were using it correctly. In a year in which a pandemic infected our bodies and vocabulary, it only makes sense that “pandemic” would receive such an honor. Congrats to “pandemic”—you really made 2020 your year!
We at Jezebel do things a little differently. We just pick shit that made us laugh, as opposed to basing our word of the year choice upon “a statistical analysis of words that are looked up in extremely high numbers in our online dictionary while also showing a significant year-over-year increase in traffic.” And no single word made at least one of us (the one writing this post) laugh more than “cornova,” which Wendy Williams blurted out during the October 6 episode of her talk show. Twice.
The word occupies a fog somewhere between “coronavirus” and “covid.” It is at once confused and specific. It is wrong but right. It is disconnected from the reality of the constant use of “coronavirus” and “covid” amongst English speakers, yet totally tuned in to what everyone is talking about. It is the linguistic equivalent of being apart together (if not together apart). It is absurd and true. It is our word of the year. Thank you.