'Pandemic': The word of the year for Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Dec 01, 2020, 09:47 AM(IST)

The term had the most online dictionary lookups of any word, Merriam-Webster said on its website. Photograph:( WION )

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Pandemic is defined as "an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population," according to Merriam-Webster.com.

Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com on Monday announced “pandemic” as their word of the year.

"Pandemic" is the Word of the Year for both Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com. It informed top searches on both sites and reshaped the language we use daily, both companies said.

"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," the dictionary publisher said.

Pandemic is defined as "an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a significant proportion of the population," according to Merriam-Webster.com.

The word's Greek roots are "pan," meaning all or every and "demos," meaning people, Merriam-Webster said.

Dictionary lookups skyrocketed on March 11 when the World Health Organization officially labelled COVID-19 a pandemic.

The word "saw the single largest spike in dictionary traffic in 2020, showing an increase of 115,806% over lookups on that day in 2019," said the company, founded in 1831.

Last year's winner was "they" as used to describe someone who does not identify as male nor female. That follows winners "justice" in 2018, "feminism" in 2017 and "surreal" in 2016.

(With inputs from agencies)

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