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Merriam-Webster has announced its 2021 Word of the Year and, surprise, surprise, it’s not “floccinaucinihilipilification.” No, instead, the winner is the word websters dictionary which beat out over 470,000 other entries in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. In the process, “vaccine” edged out the following runners-up: “insurrection”, “perseverance”, “woke”, “nomad”, “infrastructure”, “cicada”, websters dictionary, “cis-gender”, “guardian”, and “meta.”
Here’s a tweet with the announcement:
After the announcement, some wondered whether anti-vaccination folks would as a result try to “cancel” the dictionary:
Now, Merriam-Webster, Inc. knows words. They have the best words. And the worst ones too. In fact, they’ve tried to have as edd website for unemployment real words as feasible. They’ve published dictionaries since the 1800’s, including offering a free online dictionary and thesaurus for the past two decades. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary has been one of the go-to locations when looking for the definition of a word, such as when someone calls you a “douchebag” and you’re wondering whether to say “thank you.”
According to Merriam-Webster, lookups of the word “vaccine” in 2021 jumped by 601% from 2020 and 1048% from 2019. In fact, August of this year alone saw a 535% increase. Those are substantial rises given the fact that people typically don’t look up words that they know already. For example, normally, you don’t have to look up the word “toilet” and “asparagus” every day to remind yourself how to use each and that the two traditionally should be used next to each other. Therefore, something must have prompted such rises in 2021.
Gee, what could have it been? Could it possibly be due to the fact that we’ve been in the middle of a freaking global emergency, the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic? Could it be that Covid-19 vaccines are a major key to stopping this pandemic? This year marked the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines in many countries. And not surprisingly a cow-dung-load of anti-vaccine misinformation on social media soon followed these roll-outs.
In fact, some of the anti-vaxxer messaging has even claimed that the Covid-19 vaccines aren’t actually vaccines, as I covered in September for Forbes. This may have further fueled dictionary searches websters dictionary the word “vaccine,” including those wanting to confirm the definition of the word to themselves and those wanting to confirm the definition to others.
The current definition of “vaccine” in the dictionary includes the following:
“1 : a preparation that is administered (as by injection) to stimulate the body's immune response against a specific infectious agent or disease: such as
a : an antigenic preparation of a typically inactivated or attenuated (see ATTENUATED sense 2) pathogenic agent (such as a bacterium or virus) or one of its components or products (such as a protein or toxin)
b : a preparation of genetic material (such as a strand of synthesized messenger RNA) that is used by the cells of the body to produce an antigenic substance (such as a fragment of virus spike protein)”
Let’s see. The available Covid-19 vaccines are indeed designed “to stimulate the body's immune response against a specific infectious agent or disease.” So why aren’t they vaccines again?
Now, back in May, Merriam-Webster did “revise and expand its entry for the word.” This change has prompted some people, or bots, on social websters dictionary to pounce and claim some conspiracy theory-laden reasons for this change. For example, Samantha Putterman writing for Politifact referenced a Facebook post that asserted, “They mislead then change the definition. Ask some of the history books. (They will lead you to believe slavery was an unpaid internship.)”
The post included as well a graphic that stated, “Vaccine used to be defined as a substance that provides ‘immunity’ to a specific disease. Now, Merriam-Webster has literally changed the definition of ‘vaccine’ and removed the ‘immunity’ portion to possibly cover for the fact that Covid ‘vaccines’ don’t actually provide immunity from Covid.”
Removed the “immunity” portion? Umm, the current Merriam-Webster definition still has the phrase “stimulate the body's immune response.” Claiming that this is a drastic change from “immunity” is like saying “you exhibit douchebaggery” doesn’t really mean that you are a douchebag.
The previous version of the Merriam-Webster definition was, “a preparation of killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms that is administered to produce or artificially increase immunity to a particular disease.” While there have been changes in the wording, the essence of the definition remains the same.
You can see that the current definition is no longer limited to just “killed microorganisms, living attenuated organisms, or living fully virulent organisms” in part because the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines do not use the whole microorganism to produce or increase immunity. Instead, the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Astra-Zeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccines get your cells to produce the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spike protein. This spike protein then elicits a immune response from your body.
But this isn’t the only reason to revise and expand the definition in this manner. Vaccines don’t necessarily have to have the whole microorganism in it to generate an immune response. There can be pieces of the microorganism. And scientists have long been working on new ways to warn your immune system to keep on the lookout for particular invaders, whether these invades are infectious pathogens or non-infectious ones like various types of cancerous cells.
Additionally, the new wording “stimulate the body's immune response” is probably a more accurate way of describing what vaccines in general are supposed to do than the previous wording “increase immunity.” Saying that you have “immunity” to something makes the immune response sound like an all-or-nothing thing. Immunity is not necessarily like a suit of armor or a gigantic concrete full body condom. It frequently does not offer 100% protection. Instead, it’s a little more like love. The amount of immune protection offered may vary from person to person and with time.
So, “vaccine” now joins former Word of the Year winners “pandemic” from 2020, “they” from 2019, “justice” from 2018, “feminism” from 2017, “surreal” from 2016, “-ism” from 2015, “culture” from 2014, “science” from 2013, “socialism” from 2012, “pragmatic” from 2011, websters dictionary from 2010, “admonish” from 2009, and “bailout” from 2008. Of course, the reasons for making this list has varied from year to year. Case in point, unless you were a big corporation in 2008, you probably didn’t personally receive a bailout in 2008, whereas many more people probably personally suffered from racism, sexism, hearing too many bro-isms, or other types of “-isms” in 2015.
Even in a given year, different candidates for the Word of Year may vary significantly in their use and applicability. For example, if you were expecting a vaccine in January 2021 but got an insurrection instead, you might have been a bit upset.
Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.Источник: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2021/11/29/vaccine-is-merriam-websters-word-of-the-year-2021/