The word of the year is Vax, according to the Oxford English Dictionary

The word of the year is Vax, according to the Oxford English Dictionary

The Oxford English Dictionary’s lexicographers have chosen Vax as the word of the year (OED).

Vaccine-related phrases like double-vaxxed, unvaxxed, and anti-vaxxer have witnessed a spike in popularity in 2021 as a result of Covid.

According to OED senior editor Fiona McPherson, Vax was an obvious choice because it has had “the most striking impact.”

“It dates back to the 1980s, but according to our corpus, it was hardly used until this year. When you consider its adaptability in constructing other words, such as vaxxie, vax-a-thon, and vaxinista, it’s evident that vax stood out from the pack.” She noted.

Although both vax and vaxx are acceptable spellings, the one-x version is more commonly used. The use of the word “pandemic” has increased by more than 57,000 percent this year. Collins and Oxford Languages each choose their own word of the year, and Collins chose “lockdown” for 2020.

Oxford chose to widen the scope of its prize to include a few other significant phrases, such as lockdown, bushfires, and Covid-19, as well as Black Lives Matter, WFH [working from home], keyworkers, and furlough, because it was an unusual year with too many contenders.

This year’s Oxford-winning word is vax, which first appeared in English in 1799, while its derivatives vaccinate and vaccination appeared in English in 1800.

All of these words are derived from the Latin term vacca, which means cow. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, this is due to English physician and scientist Edward Jenner’s pioneering work on smallpox vaccination using cowpox—a benign illness that occurs in cows in the late 1790s and early 1800s.

The corpus, or language resource, of Oxford Languages aggregates daily news items and has approximately 14.5 billion words for lexicographers to review and analyse, according to the company.

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