top of page

Words of the Year Around the World 2021

Updated: Mar 28, 2023

It seems that most of the English speaking world likes to get their views in early.

UK: The Oxford English Dictionary chose 'vax' as its word of the year 2021, whilst the Collins Dictionary bucked the trend by selecting NFT. The abbreviation of non-fungible token has seen a “meteoric” rise in usage over the last year, said Collins, up 11,000 percent in the last year. Meanwhile, the Cambridge Dictionary chose 'perseverance', defined as ‘continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time’

USA: With an expanded definition to reflect the times, Merriam-Webster has declared an omnipresent truth as its 2021 word of the year: vaccine. While other dictionary companies choose words of the year by committee, Merriam-Webster bases its selection on lookup data, paying close attention to spikes and, more recently, year-over-year increases in searches after weeding out evergreens. Runners up were 'insurrection' and 'infrastructure'.

Australia: 'Strollout' has been announced as the Macquarie dictionary’s word of the year for 2021. The Australian people have spoken and their opinion – for only the second time – is the same as the experts, with the colloquial noun “referring to the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination program in Australia, with reference to the perceived lack of speed” taking both the people’s choice award and the judging committee’s selection. Honourable mentions went to menty-b – that’s a colloquial term for a breakdown in one’s mental health – Delta, which surely needs no explanation, and last chance tourism, which refers to tourism to locations with endangered landscapes or geological features or which are habitats for endangered species.

Understandably, most nations reveal their words of the year nearer the end of it. So, we'll update you nearer Christmas. In the meantime you may be interested in...

Germany: 'Cringe' has been selected as Germany's youth word of the year for 2021, receiving 42 percent of votes in an online poll, says the publishing house Langenscheidt. "The word is in active use in the speech of 10- to 20-year-olds," Langenscheidt said, adding that this was confirmed by the fact that 'cringe' made it to second place last year. The word 'sus' - short for 'suspect' - received second place, while the informal English exclamation 'sheesh', used to express disbelief, came in third.


Today's OGN Sunday Magazine articles


bottom of page