In April, the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary did something unusual. For the previous 20 years, they had issued quarterly updates to announce new words and meanings selected for inclusion. These updates have typically been made available in March, June, September and December.
In the late spring, however, and again in July, the dictionary’s editors released special updates, citing a need to document the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the English language.
Although the editors have documented many coronavirus-related linguistic shifts, some of their observations are surprising. They claim, for example, that the pandemic has produced only one truly new word: the acronym COVID-19.
Most of the coronavirus-related changes that the editors have noted have to do with older, more obscure words and phrases being catapulted into common usage, such as reproduction number and social distancing. They’ve also documented the creation of new word blends based on previously existing vocabulary.
Read more: The Conversation