Few words can express so much over a period of time, justifies the dictionary in a press release.
The word vaccine has meant much more than medicine in 2021. For many, it has symbolized a possible return to pre-pandemic life. But it has also been at the center of debates on personal choice, political affiliation, professional regulations, school safety, inequality in health, and many others., adds Merriam-Webster.
Research on a treatment for the coronavirus that appeared in China in the winter of 2019 began around the world at the start of the pandemic. Vaccines using new messenger RNA (mRNA) technology were rapidly developed and tested before being produced on a large scale.
The first doses were administered in December 2020 in the United States, where a massive vaccination campaign was launched in early 2021.
The use of a vaccine that triggers an immune response in a whole new way forced Merriam-Webster to revise and expand his definition of the word in May, says the dictionary.
Online searches for the word
vaccine increased by 601% between 2020 and 2021, and by 1,048% between 2019 and 2021.
vaccine is derived from latin vacca (cow) and comes from the
vaccinated, or cow pox, which was used to develop the vaccine against smallpox in humans.
Some of the other most searched words in 2021 include
insurrection to qualify the January 6 violence in the US Congress, the name of the NASA robot
Perseverance which landed on Mars in February, and the term
woke developed by the American left to denote the awareness of injustices linked in particular to skin color or gender.