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‘Vax’ declared as word of the year by Oxford English Dictionary

Vax has been chosen as the word of the year by Oxford English Dictionary. The words related to vaccine have spiked frequency in 2021 due to Coronavirus, with double-vaxxed, unvaxxed and anti-vaxxer all seen surge in use.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) senior editor Fiona McPherson says vax was the obvious choice as it made ‘the most striking impact’.

“It goes back at least to the 1980s, but according to our corpus it was rarely used until this year,” she said.

“When you add to that its versatility in forming other words – vaxxie, vax-a-thon, vaxinista – it became clear that vax was the standout in the crowd.”

Vax and vaxx are both accepted spellings but the form with one x is more common.

Use of the word pandemic has also increased by more than 57,000% this year.

Oxford Languages and Collins each decide their own word of the year, and in 2020 Collins chose “lockdown”.

But Oxford decided it was an unprecedented year with too many contenders, so expanded its award to encompass a handful of newly key words including lockdown, bushfires and Covid-19, as well as Black Lives Matter, WFH [working from home], keyworkers and furlough.

This year’s Oxford-winning word, vax, was first recorded in English in 1799, while its derivatives vaccinate and vaccination both first appeared in 1800.