The 2021 Word of the Year Is "Vaccine" According To Merriam-Webster

Merriam-Webster, the oldest dictionary publisher in the USA selected Vaccine as 2021's Word of the Year. 

The choice was determined by search volume statistics on Vaccine look up increased as the year moved on, spiking debates about mandates and recommendations. 

"Vaccine lookups increased 600%, and the story is about much more than medicine," says Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster's Editor at Large. "It was at the center of debates about personal choice, political affiliation, professional regulations, school safety, healthcare inequity, and so much more. The biggest science event of the year quickly became the biggest political debate in our country, and the word at the center of both stories is vaccine. Few words can express so much about one moment in time."

The lookups of “Vaccine” increased on the website by 1,048% compared to 2019, and saw a 535% jump in August as countries began to administer the COVID-19 vaccines and more news reports regarding the topic began circulating.

Earlier this May, Merriam-Webster also updated its meaning of “Vaccine” due to new research and added the function of mRNA technology. “The ‘messenger RNA vaccine’ was new to me, I had never heard of it, and unless you were a research scientist, you probably haven’t,” Sokolowski told CNN. “Therefore, the dictionary didn’t even cover a definition.”

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Mungwadzi Godwin

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