“Corona pandemic” is Germany's Word of the Year 2020

“Corona pandemic” is Germany's Word of the Year 2020

“Corona pandemic” has been named the Word of the Year 2020 by the German Language Society in Wiesbaden. “Lockdown”, “Black Lives Matter” and “Ghost games” all made it into the top 10 this year.

Word of the Year

“Corona pandemic” is the Word of the Year chosen by the German Language Society (GfdS). The selection committee stated that the word is particularly relevant, not only due to the crisis that has dominated our daily lives since the beginning of the year, but also because it linguistically represents the many new word formations about coronavirus in Germany that have entered public usage in the meantime, such as “corona protest” or “coronavirus app.”

The GfdS does not just look at how frequently a word has been used or how popular it is; rather, they look at how significant the word has become over the year and select those that reflect developments in society - both national and international - over the past year.

Thousands of words are considered every year for the ranking, coming from various different media, as well as submissions from the public. The selection committee is made up of GfdS board members and scientific staff.

2020’s ranking

During the selection process, the GfdS committee selected 10 words or phrases that linguistically reflect the political, economic or social developments of the year. The top 10 words for 2020 are:

  1. Corona pandemic (Corona-Pandemie)
  2. Lockdown
  3. Conspiracy story (Verschwörungserzählung)
  4. Black Lives Matter
  5. AHA (Distance + Hygiene + Mask)
  6. Systemically relevant (systemrelevant) (used to describe workers in "key professions")
  7. Triage
  8. Ghost games (Geisterspiele) (sports games played in empty stadiums)
  9. Gender asterisk (Gendersternchen)
  10. Stay healthy! (Bleiben Sie gesund!)

Last year, Respektrente,” was voted Word of the Year by the GfDs. The term was coined by the Labour Minister Hubertus Heil and translates to “respect pension.” It was used to refer to the introduction of a standard pension for those who received only small state contributions, despite working for many years.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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