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“Vaccine”, word of the year 2021 for the Merriam-Webster dictionary

The American Merriam-Webster dictionary on the internet announced that “vaccine” is the word of the year 2021, after registering significant interest in a term that it said went beyond the medical dimension to dominate the social debate in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Few words can express so much in a period of time,” said the famous dictionary in a post on its website.

“The word vaccine has meant much more than medicine in 2021. For many, it has symbolized a possible return to pre-pandemic life. But it has also been at the center of debates about personal choice, political affiliation, employment regulations, school safety, health care inequality, and much more, ”Merriam-Webster noted.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus pandemic, which has caused at least 5.1 million deaths worldwide since the first report of the disease in China in December 2019, accelerated the development of a new type of immunization: RNA vaccines. messenger (mRNA).

Merriam-Webster said this involved revising and expanding its definition of the word “vaccine,” which it did in May to incorporate new technology that triggers the immune response in the human body.

The first doses of the COVID vaccine were administered in December 2020 in the United States, where a mass immunization campaign was launched in early 2021.

The dictionary said that this year, internet searches for the word “vaccine” increased 601% compared to 2020. But “the prominence of the word in our lives” is even more evident when comparing 2021 with 2019, when the inquiries increased 1,048%, he added.

The word “vaccine” is derived from the Latin ‘vacca’ (cow) because the term was originally used to refer to inoculation with doses of cowpox to protect humans against smallpox.

Merriam-Webster said that this word is relatively recent in English, dating back to the 1880s.

The dictionary also listed the 10 most searched words of 2021.

The first is “insurgency”, to describe the violence of January 6 in the United States Congress. It is followed by “perseverance”, by the name of the NASA robot that landed on Mars in February, and in third place is “woke”, a term that refers to being aware of social inequality, both in relation to race and gender and sexual orientation.

“Nomad”, “infrastructure”, “cicada”, and “meta” are also among the most consulted words this year on Merriam-Webster online.


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