Merriam-Webster announces ‘vaccine’ as 2021 word


Springfield, MA, November 29, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Today, Merriam-Webster, the dictionary editor helping millions of people understand and use the language better, announced its Word of the Year: Vaccine. While this may seem like an obvious selection for 2021, the data from the dictionary website tells a complex story.

Vaccine research has increased by 600%, and the story is not limited to medicine, ”says Peter Sokolowski, editor-in-chief of Merriam-Webster. “It was at the center of debates about personal choice, political affiliation, professional regulations, school safety, health care inequalities and much more. The biggest science event of the year quickly became our country’s biggest political debate, and the word at the center of both stories is vaccine. Few words can express so much about a moment in time.

The word of the year selection is based on the search volume on Even if vaccine There has been a great deal of research when vaccines were developed and distributed, peaks of research accompanied debates on mandates and recommendations.

Interest in the word was strong in January with news about vaccines and their effectiveness, and in early February when the United States hit the milestone of more people vaccinated than infected. Searches increased dramatically in August, with the introduction of state and federal vaccine warrants. Controversy surrounding President Biden’s September executive order requiring the vaccination of federal employees, news of the recall recommendations and the authorization of the vaccine for children continued to generate enormous interest in the word.

Merriam-Webster himself has become a small part of the story. In May, as part of the standard dictionary revision process, the definition of vaccine has been updated to better explain how vaccines work, including the role of mRNA technology, which has led to further research.

Other words also stood out in the 2021 dictionary data, and they also shed light on the experiences and ideas that shaped the year. These main researches include:

Insurrection in January, used to describe the attack on the United States Capitol

Perseverance in February, after NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars

Infrastructure in April, after President Biden announced his controversial $ 2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal

Nomadic in April, Nomadland won three Oscars including that of best film

Cicada in May, as billions of insects emerged from the basement after 17 years

Cisgender, first in May when the word was used in a CIA recruiting video, and again in October when a student used it in an academic editorial

Murraya in July, after Zaila Avant-garde spelled it correctly to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Guardian in July after the Cleveland baseball team announced that “Guardians” would replace “Indians” as their team name

Meta in October, after Facebook changed its company name

I woke up especially in the coverage of the November elections, when those on the left were tagged with the word by those on the right

Get more details on all the words of the year 2021

About Merriam-Webster Inc.
For over 180 years, Merriam-Webster has been America’s premier provider of language information. Every month, our award-winning websites, apps and social networks deliver advice to tens of millions of visitors. In print, our publications include Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary (one of the best-selling books in American history) and books for students of all ages and abilities. All of Merriam Webster’s products and services are backed by the largest team of dictionary editors and writers in America.

For more information, visit and follow @MerriamWebster on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


  • Merriam-Webster Announces “Vaccine” as Word of the Year 2021


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