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Oxford Dictionary Declares ‘Vax’ as Word of the Year 2021

Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has chosen vax as its word of the year 2021. According to reports, the short form of vaccine has been used 72 times more than the last year. It reflects how the discussions regarding COVID-19 vaccination have been growing across the world. It certainly contains a broad range of context associated with this one word related to vaccines such as fully vaxxed, double vaxxed, unvaxxed, anti-vax, and many others. No matter the variations, the word vax has always been popularly visible. Reportedly, the use of the word ‘pandemic’ has also increased more than 50,000% from last year but it could not be the winner.

Why Vax is the Word of the Year?

The company said that it was an obvious choice for word of the year 2021 because it made the “most striking impact” considering its history. Although the English word was first recorded in 1799, its alternatives and derivates like vaccination, vaccinated, etc. came in the 1800s. However, according to Oxford’s corpus, it has never been used much like it is being used right now.

All variations of vax come from the Latin word ‘vacca’, which means a cow. It came to the surface after an English scientist Edward Jenner pioneered a vaccine against smallpox plague using another viral skin infection, cowpox in the late 1790s. However, in recent times, vax’s popularity is because of the global COVID-19 inoculation drive. Throughout the year, medical reports of vaccine breakthroughs have been emerging leading to the worldwide surge in the use of vocabulary related to vaccines.

Definitions in the Dictionary

Oxford’s word of the year 2021 is defined in the dictionary as “a vaccine” or “vaccination” in noun form. As a verb, its definition is “treat someone with the vaccine to produce immunity against a disease”. Another noun, vaxxie, which is a wordplay of ‘selfie’, is explained in the dictionary as “a photograph of someone during or after COVID vaccination, typically shared on social media”.

Anti-vaxx (adjective) is also defined in the dictionary as “opposed to vaccine” whereas anti-vaxxer (noun) is “a person who is opposed to vaccination”. And, double-vaxx (adjective) is defined as “having received 2 doses of a vaccine”.

A Long List to Choose From

According to reports, lexicographers at Oxford had to make their word of the year 2021 choice out of 14.5 billion words, gathered and updated daily from news sources. However, this year was not as difficult for Oxford as the last one. The devastating year of 2020 had too many options that Oxford was unable to single out only one word from a handful for new popular words like; pandemic, COVID-19, black lives matter, lockdown, or bushfires. Collins dictionary on the other hand ended up with lockdown as their word of the year 2020. Amid the pandemic and vaccination drive, fake news has also been on the rise but Collins already covered it as its word of the year in 2017.

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