Superspreader and furlough among Words of the Year in ‘unprecedented’ 2020

A Covid related word could make the Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year. Credit: PA

Oxford Dictionaries has expanded its usual Word of the Year due to an "unprecedented" 2020, with furlough, moonshot and Covid-19 making the list.

Superspreader and lockdown are other coronavirus-related words on the list, along with Black Lives Matter, cancel culture and bushfire relating to societal and environmental issues during the past 12 months.

Earlier this month, Collins Dictionary named “lockdown” as its Word of the Year 2020 after a sharp increase in its usage.

Previous examples of Word of the Year include vape, selfie and post-truth, with the "crying with tears" emoji deemed the winner in 2015.

The report, titled Words of an Unprecedented Year, says usage of the word pandemic increased by 57,000% last year while lexicographers found use of the word 'coronavirus' passed one of the most frequently used nouns, time, in April.

'Zoombombing' and 'unmute' were also terms on the Credit: PA

It said: "Of course, Covid-19 and all its related vocabulary provided a clear focus for our language monitoring this year but there were many other areas of activity which saw enormous language change and were equally demanding of our attention, such as political and economic volatility, social activism, the environment and the rapid uptake of new technologies and behaviours to support remote working and living.

"We also cast our net wide to capture how English around the world expressed its own view, sometimes sharing the collective expressions for the phenomena endured globally this year, and at other times using regionally specific words and usages.

"All of which goes to illustrate that 2020 is a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single ‘word of the year’."

Other terms which have seen a surge in use this year include unmute, referring to people making themselves audible during online conferences, and Zoombombing, a variant on photobombing which was first recorded as a word in 2008, and refers to disturbing online calls on Zoom.