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‘Vax’ is Oxford English Dictionary’s 2021 word of the year

The word chosen by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) as the word of the year is ‘Vax’.

In 2021, the words related to vaccines spiked in frequency due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic with double-vaxxed, unvaxxed, and anti-vaxxer all seeing a surge in use, reported BBC.


An obvious choice was ‘Vax’ as it has made “the most striking impact”, OED senior editor Fiona McPherson was quoted as saying.

“It goes back at least to the 1980s, but according to our corpus it was rarely used until this year,” she said.

“When you add to that its versatility in forming other words – vaxxie, vax-a-thon, vaxinista – it became clear that vax was the standout in the crowd”, Fiona said.

The most common form of the spelling ‘vax’ is with a single ‘x’. Although both vax and vaxx are accepted.

The usage of the word ‘vax’ in September was up more than 72 times from its level last year, said OCED. Other words related to vaccination had also been broadened into wider ranges such as “vax cards” and “fully vaxxed”, reported the Guardian.

The report said that the usage of the word ‘pandemic’ has also been increased by more than 57,000 percent this year.

The word “Vax” has been derived from the Latin word ‘Vacca’, meaning cow, which was first recorded in English in 1799. Both its derivatives vaccinate and vaccination first appeared in 1800.

OED reports, this is because of the English physician and scientist Edward Jenner’s pioneering work on vaccination against smallpox in the late 1790s and early 1800s.

Collins chose the word ‘lockdown’ as the word of the year in 2020.

Nonetheless, Oxford decided to expand its award to encompass a handful of new keywords such as lockdown, bushfires, and Covid-19, as well as Black Lives Matter, WFH (working from home), keyworkers, and furlough since it was an unprecedented year with too many contenders, says the report.

Oxford’s language resource gathers news content and is updated daily containing over 14.5 billion words for the lexicographers to search and analyze.

(With inputs from IANS)

Published : November 21, 2021

By : The Statesman