Merriam-Webster Announces "Pandemic" as 2020 Word of the Year

Somewhere between "Panda" and "Pandemonium" you'll find the publishing company's choice for 2020 Word of the Year.

"Pandemic" captured worldwide attention when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic on March 11th. Searches for the word went viral with a whopping 115,806% increase compared with the same day in 2019.

Peter Sokolowski is Merriam-Webster's editor at large and he says it's likely to be the word that will define this period in time.

The word is nearly four hundred years old with Latin and Greek roots. It's made up of a combination of "pan," meaning for all, and "demos," for people or population.

Merriam-Webster has defined this year's top word as "an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area and typically affects a significant proportion of the population."

Coronavirus, quarantine, and asymptomatic were runners up for word of the year according to lookup traffic on

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