Last week I reminded my oldest daughter to submit her Covid health check for swim practice, and I yelled at my middle daughter to stop leaving her face masks all over the house. Yesterday, I received a call from the school nurse informing me that one of my daughters was potentially exposed on the school bus and would have to quarantine for 14 days. My January 2020 self would be so confused.
Lately I’ve been thinking about all the new words and phrases that pepper my thoughts and conversations these days—words I knew but rarely had reason to use until, well, you know. Now I can’t complete a sentence without them!
For the first time ever, the Oxford English Dictionary chose not to name a word of the year, insisting that 2020 “cannot be neatly accommodated in one single word.” (I disagree, but the word I’m thinking of definitely violates our publishing standards.) Instead, it issued a report titled, “Words of an Unprecedented Year.”
Here are some of the words and phrases that dominated our 2020 lexicon (many are in the report; others—while popular—didn’t quite meet OED standards):
• Quarantine (or my preferred form, “Quarantini”)
• Social distancing
• Face masks
• Maskne (#itsathing)
• Contact tracing
• Systemic racism
• Zoom doom
• Frontline and essential workers
• Flatten the curve
• Remote learning
• Virtual happy hour
• WFH (working from home)
• Zumping (getting dumped over Zoom)
P.S. In case you’re curious, 2019’s OED word of the year was “climate emergency,” and 2018’s was “toxic.” Yikes!
Hang in there. These are tough times!