Merriam-Webster and Announce “Pandemic” As Its 2020 Word of the Year

For the first time, two dictionary companies on Monday — Merriam-Webster and — declared the same word as their tops: pandemic. Oxford Languages couldn’t settle on just one so they issued a 16-page report instead saying, “2020 is a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single `word of the year.’”

John Kelly, senior research editor at, told the AP before breaking the news that searches on the site for pandemic spiked more than 13,500% on March 11, the day the World Health Organization declared an outbreak of the novel coronavirus a global health emergency.