A street in Phuket, Thailand, is largely deserted during the pandemic. [Photo/Xinhua]
Cambridge Dictionary has revealed its word of the year is “quarantine”.
The dictionary’s editors said that it was the third most searched-for word of the year, but comes in at number one once you discount words that recur almost every year, such as “hello” and “dictionary”.
According to the dictionary, “quarantine” was searched for the most in between 18 and 24 March, when restrictions began to be imposed due to the pandemic.
Cambridge Dictionary has said that the word acquired new meaning during lockdown and has therefore been given an added definition.
"A general period of time in which people are not allowed to leave their homes or travel freely, so that they do not catch or spread a disease," it reads.
Alongside “quarantine”, other coronavirus-related words, including “pandemic” and “lockdown”, ranked highly on Cambridge Dictionary’s most popular list for 2020.
There were also several new words added to the dictionary, including “HyFlex”, which is short for hybrid flexible, a term used to describe a style of teaching that sees some students participating in a class virtually while others are also there physically.
"Elbow bump" was also added as a way of referring to a friendly greeting that allows people to maintain social distancing.
In a poll, readers were asked which words they think should be added to the dictionary this year.
Among the most common words were “quaranteen” - a teenager in lockdown, “lockstalgia”, feeling nostalgic about lockdown, and “coronnial”, a person who was born during the coronavirus pandemic.
Wendalyn Nichols, Cambridge Dictionary publishing manager, said: "The words that people search for reveal not just what is happening in the world, but what matters most to them in relation to those events.
"Neither coronavirus nor Covid-19 appeared among the words that Cambridge Dictionary users searched for most this year.
"We believe this indicates that people have been fairly confident about what the virus is.
"Instead, users have been searching for words related to the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, as evidenced not just by 'quarantine' but by the two runners-up on the shortlist for Word of the Year: 'lockdown', and 'pandemic' itself."
Cambridge Dictionary’s announcement comes after Oxford English Dictionary revealed its words of the year, announcing for the first time that it has found it impossible to name any single “word of the year”.
Among the words chosen this year were furlough, bushfires, WFH, lockdown, moonshot and new coinages like Covid-19, blursday and covidiot.
The annual selection reflects “the ethos, mood or preoccupations” of the preceding year, the OED said, but this year the tribute to linguistic change could not be encapsulated in a single word.