Image source, Reuters
Caption for the image The frequency of words related to vaccinations has increased by 2021.

By the Oxford English Dictionary, Vax was chosen by the lexicographers as word of year.

Covid has caused a spike in vaccine-related words in 2021. Double-vaxxed Unvaxxed Anti-vaxxerEach area is seeing an increase in their use.

Fiona McPherson, senior editor at OED, says that vax is the obvious choice because it made the most impact.

It dates at most to the 1980s but, according to our corpus, it was very rarely used up to this year,” she stated.

Add to this its ability in creating other words. Vaxxie vax-athon VaxinistaIt became obvious that vax was the star of the bunch.”

Although both vaxx and vax can be used as spellings, the more popular form of Vax with just one x is much more commonly.

Definitions of vax in the Oxford English Dictionary

  • vax n. A vaccine or vaccination
  • Vax V. Treat someone with a vaccine that produces immunity against a particular disease; vaccinate
  • Vaxxie, n. A photo of yourself taken during, immediately after, or shortly before a vaccine, particularly one against Covid-19. This is often shared via social media.
  • Adopted anti-vax Opposed To Vaccination
  • An anti-vaxxer is a person who opposes vaccination
  • Adj. double-vaxxed Two doses of vaccine have been received

This year, the use of pandemics has increased more than 57,000%.

Collins and Oxford Languages each choose their word of the Year. Collins selected “lockdown” in 2020.

Oxford decided that it was an unusual year, with many candidates. So the award was expanded to include a few new key words. Lockdown Bushfires Covid-19As well as Black Lives Matter WFH [working from home] Keyworkers Furlough

Oxford’s winner word for the year is VaxWhile the English word ‘vaccinate’ was first described in English in 1799 and its derivates Vaccination and Vaccination first appeared in 1800,

These words all stem from the Latin vacca which literally means cow. According to OED, it is because Edward Jenner (an English doctor and scientist) pioneered the use of cowpox to prevent smallpox in cattle. He did this in the late 1790s/early 1800s.

Oxford Languages states that their corpus or language resource is a collection of news articles. The information includes over 14.5 million words, which can be searched and analysed by lexicographers.

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