"COVID-19" and "physically distance" were both added to the dictionary in 2020.
The words that were added to the dictionary in a given year say a lot about what was happening in the world at the time.
In 1977, the year I was born, "bad cholesterol," "headbanger," and "money shot" all made their debut in the ever-revered Merriam-Webster dictionary. In 1998, the year I was married, "webinar" and "cyberbullying" appeared on the scene. Signs of the times, indeed.
If you go back far enough in Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool, the results are more about which words were first recorded to have been in print in a given year. For instance, in 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed, words like "slaveholder," "agricultural," and "shotgun" were used or seen in print for the very first time. But words "preggers" and "take-home pay" weren't seen in print until 1942.
Here are some of our favorites:
1500: brownie, cadaver, frisky, slippery
1600: bedroom, candidate, carry on, dessert
1700: bachelor's degree, doll, wheelchair, whippersnapper
1800: berserk, malformation, methodology, tranquilizer
1850: chewing gum, hippo, homeowner, overstress, voodoo
1900: Easter Bunny, labor camp, nonstop, self-motivated, sit-up
1925: cannoli, extramarital, hot seat, sweatpants, vitamin E
1940: citizen's arrest, disc jockey, Monterey Jack, sloppy joe, tell-all, withholding tax
1950: bioengineering, Big Brotherism, deep fryer, dystopia, nail-biter, sonogram, space shuttle, tape-record, tapped-out
1960: bug-out bag, cyborg, mayo, meet and greet, Montezuma's Revenge, peace corp, stink eye, valet parking, wide-receiver
1970: bummed, hatchback, nunchuck, pro-life, punk rock, safe space, toll-free, yucky, zip line
1980: bitmap, director's cut, home video, homeschool, macchiato, voice mail, wind farm, yuppie, ziplock
1990: fam, hand gel, left-click, McMansion, spam, tight-whities, twentysomething, World Wide Web
2000: deep state, geocaching, google, Molly, sudoku, TiVo
2005: Debbie Downer, glamping, on-brand, paleo, sexting
2014: hard pass
2020: coronavirus disease 2019
Click here to dig deep into the history of the English language by year!
What's the most fascinating one in your opinion? Tell us in the comments!