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2020 has been a busy year for dictionary makers with a wave of new words and changes in meaning of older words, according to an English language learning expert from Cambridge. Dr Nick Saville from Cambridge Assessment English says English speakers have learned a lot of new vocabulary this year, including Coronavirus, Covid, Furlough, R-Rate and many more, not to mention Zoom.
His comments come as experts from the Cambridge Dictionary announced their word of the year as Quarantine. The Cambridge Dictionary is developed by Cambridge University Press and is the world’s leading online dictionary for learners of English. Experts analysed millions of searches made by users and chose Quarantine as their word of the year. It is a long established word, originally borrowed from 14th century Italian, Quarantena, meaning a period of 40 days. This year it has become widely used in English and many other languages as “a general period of time in which people are not allowed to leave their homes or travel freely, so that they do not catch or spread a disease.”
Dr Nick Saville, who works closely with experts at Cambridge University Press, says:
“Quarantine is a really interesting choice for word of the year, not just because it’s one of the many words that Italian has given to English. It also shows the complexity of English pronunciation, as it looks as if it rhymes with ‘mine’ but actually it sounds like ‘mean’! The Cambridge Dictionary is one of the huge range of resources and services which Cambridge provides for learners. It is great for learners who are preparing for Cambridge English exams because it has the same focus on the way the language is actually used in the real world, so it helps you to develop skills which will be useful throughout your studies and working life.”
The Cambridge Dictionary is the top dictionary website for learners of English in the world. As well as definitions, the Cambridge Dictionary shows how words are used in real-world contexts. Its ‘About Words’ blog, written by language usage experts, helps learners gain confidence in using vocabulary related to specific topics. The most highly viewed blog post this year was ‘Quarantine, carriers and face masks: the language of the coronavirus’, which had almost 80,000 views in the first six weeks after it was posted on February 26, and now ranks as the ninth most viewed About Words post in the nearly ten years that the blog has been live. The post covers a range of related terms, such as infectious, contagious, carriers, super-spreaders, and symptoms, as well as phrases such as contract a virus, a spike in cases, contain the spread, and develop a vaccine.
Find out more about the Cambridge Dictionary Word of the Year 2020