Today, the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster announced the Word of the Year for 2021, and it’s not something lighthearted like bumblebee or rainbow. Nope, after calling ‘pandemic’ the Word of the Year for 2020, ‘vaccine’ has come around the bend this year.
Basically, Merriam-Webster picks the word of the year using some very simple criteria- the word has to have a high amount of lookups, and a significant increase of last year. So, with the global rollout of various vaccines to combat SARS-CoV-2, this guy was a shoe-in.
The word ‘vaccine’
– saw a 601% increase in lookups this year over last.
– had continual spikes of attention through the year.
– was about much more than medicine in 2021.
— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) November 29, 2021
However, the dictionary didn’t flinch to explore the ramifications of the word. In their summary, they pointed out how the word was a ‘vehicle for ideological conflict’, sparking debates about policies, personal choices, and a whole bunch of other fun stuff that we really don’t want to get into.
So instead, we’ll just share that we were surprised to find that vaccine has roots in vacca, the Latin word for cow. Why? Because cowpox was used in the 1880s to inoculate people against another serious pandemic- smallpox. The more you know, folks!