AUSTIN, Texas — Pandemic-related words continue to be the most commonly used in the English language — almost three years after the emergence of COVID-19.
According to Global Language Monitor (GLM), “denier” and “COVID” are the two most used words in 2022. The group tracks usage across the internet as well as in print, online, and social media. The Texas-based analysts pulled together a list of 37 of the most used words and phrases in the English-speaking world. Over the last three years, however, the pandemic has dominated the global conversation.
“Vaccine,” “variant,” “pandemic,” “booster dose,” “lockdown,” and “Omicron” all made the list, despite many countries effectively moving past the pandemic and removing health restrictions.
“In the year 2022, we observed three major trends in the development of the English language,” says Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of the Global Language Monitor, in a media release.
“The persistence of Pandemic-related words for the third year in a row, the acceleration of the spread of the language ever wider into all corners of the planet, and Global English insinuating itself ever more deeply into the language of academia, science, technology, politics, commerce, transportation, and entertainment.”
Politics continue to be a major talking point
“Ukraine” was the top non-pandemic word or phrase this year, while “climate change” and “global warming” continue to be two of the top phrases throughout the 21st century. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to strike down Roe v. Wade, “right to life” finished as the third-most used phrase this year. “Abortion rights” came in much lower at number 19.
Also making the 2022 list are dozens of new pronouns, collectively finishing 36th under the word “neopronouns,” which the analysts say reflects the new discourse regarding gender fluidity. Donald Trump and Joe Biden continue to sit neck and neck at 20 and 21, respectively, two years after their contested election.
GLM estimates that there are now 1,074,372 words in the English language, with 5,366 new words coming into existence each year. They add that many of these aren’t worthy enough to enter the Oxford English Dictionary, which counts less than 200,000 words.
The analysts track words no matter how slangy, such as “plutoed,” which means being downgraded or unfriended on social media. As of 2020, the researchers say “OK” has become the most recognized word on the planet.
Payack say he started the GLM project in Silicon Valley 20 years ago and has been tracking the use of English words since 2000 as a way to document the history of the 21st century through language.
Top Words of Global English for 2022 by The Global Language Monitor:
- Right to Life
- Price of gas/petrol
- Climate change
- Supply Chain
- Booster Dose
- Cancel Culture
- Inflation Definition
- Global Warming
- Abortion Rights
- Donald Trump
- Joe Biden
- Nuclear Weapons
- Xi Jinping
- Civil War
- Vladimir Putin
- Pumpkin Spice
- Democracy at risk
- Fungible (The Letter F in Non-fungible Tokens)
- Regina Elisabetta II (Queen Elisabeth II)
- West Texas Crude
- Strategic petrol reserve
- Royal Glyph
South West News Service writer Danny Halpin contributed to this report.