From the Oxford Languages Website:
Vax is our 2021 Word of the Year. When our lexicographers began digging into our English language corpus data it quickly became apparent that vax was a particularly striking term. A relatively rare word in our corpus until this year, by September it was over 72 times more frequent than at the same time last year. It has generated numerous derivatives that we are now seeing in a wide range of informal contexts, from vax sites and vax cards to getting vaxxed and being fully vaxxed, no word better captures the atmosphere of the past year than vax.
More From the NY Times:
The Word of the Year is based on usage evidence drawn from Oxford’s continually updated corpus of more than 14.5 billion words, gathered from news sources across the English-speaking world. The selection is meant “to reflect the ethos, mood or preoccupations” of the preceding year, while also having “potential as a term of lasting cultural significance.”
The word “vaccine” was first recorded in English in 1799, following the British scientist Edward Jenner’s experiments with inoculation against smallpox. In early reports on his experiments, the word “vaccine” (derived from the Latin vacca, or cow) was used to refer both to the disease and to the material from the cowpox pustules he injected into his human research subjects.
It was only decades later, according to Oxford’s report on its research, that “vaccine” came to be used for inoculation against other diseases. Curiously, while the shortened form “vax” did not appear until the 1980s, the term “anti-vax” — spelled “anti-vacks” — appeared early.
More From the BBC:
Use of the word pandemic has also increased by more than 57,000% this year.
Oxford Languages and Collins each decide their own word of the year, and in 2020 Collins chose “lockdown”.
But Oxford decided it was an unprecedented year with too many contenders, so expanded its award to encompass a handful of newly key words including lockdown, bushfires and Covid-19, as well as Black Lives Matter, WFH [working from home], keyworkers and furlough.
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