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‘Vax’ is Oxford English Dictionary’s 2021 Word of the Year

Vax gets the title of the Word of the Year 2021 by Oxford Languages, the world-famous language database that produces the Oxford English Dictionary.

Having caused quite a stir, quite literally, the post-pandemic world seems to have used the word vax 72 times more frequently in September 2021 than the previous year, according to Oxford Languages. 

Vax — Oxford Dictionary’s Word of the Year

According to Oxford’s data analysis, ‘vax’ was most commonly and frequently used in Australia, North America and South-East Asia, but it also observed that Britain and other English speaking nations were also picking up the word.

“When reviewing the language evidence, vax stood out as an obvious choice. The word’s dramatic spike in usage caught our attention first. Then we ran the analysis and a story started to emerge, revealing how vax sat at the centre of our preoccupations this year”, Casper Grathwohl, the President of Oxford Languages was quoted as saying. 

Vax is derived from the word ‘vaccine’, having been used for the first time in the 1980s. It has seen a steep surge in usage this year, now that the entire world is on a vaccination drive. What’s interesting is that the word vax also came up several times for those against vaccination, commonly known as anti-vaxxers. 

In 2020, for the first time ever, Oxford Languages did not announce a Word of the Year. It declared that 2020 could not be put in one word, given the chaos that the world was reeling with. 2020 had several contenders, from “coronavirus” to “lockdown”, among others. But Oxford declared that it was impossible to choose one since there were too many words that could sum up the year. 

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Sreetama Basu

A self-proclaimed plant mom, Sreetama finds joy wherever she sees greenery. The list of other things that bring her joy is pretty long, but writing about them is her way of celebrating them. In love with little, inconsequential things, like neatly tucked-in bedsheets and big, significant things, like whole cheesecakes. She dreams of being a baker and writing about food someday.