An old Germanic word that had gone out of fashion in British English, 2020 saw the revival of FURLOUGH. Its pronunciation with silent R, G and H matched the silence heard in offices throughout the UK.

At the beginning of 2020, Meghan and Harry had had enough of publicity. So they left the royal family and created even more publicity in a move that was dubbed MEGXIT.

As people were forced to stay in their houses, wildlife retook the streets in 2020 in a period that became known as ANTHROPAUSE – a new word literally meaning “human pause”.

Not “human paws” – humans don’t have paws, they have hands and feet.

If one piece of software defines 2020, it is videotelephony app ZOOM. It had already been around for eight years when the pandemic hit, but it quickly… well, zoomed ahead of Skype as the world’s go to video call application.
Travelling was not advisable or even possible for much of 2020, so people looked closer to home and had a STAYCATION. If you add a bit of work into the mix, then it’s a WORKATION. 

Depending on your accent, this word could be pronounced with long “a” /mɑːsk/ or short “a” /mask/. This year it combined to make several nuanced meanings: MASK SHAME, MASK REFUSER, MASK MELTDOWN, MASK UP and ANTI-MASKER to name a few.

Prior to 2020 the sentence “Do you want to be in my bubble” would have made little sense. The word generally referred to physically trapped gas.

Now it refers to socially trapped people.

No school, empty roads, quiet streets, a bit of time to sit back and rediscover yourself. It almost sounds like bliss…

… except it wasn’t bliss, it was LOCKDOWN.

BLM is an abbreviation of ‘Black Lives Matter’, a movement that has been around for years but which exploded worldwide in 2020 with the brutal death of George Floyd.

It’s not a new word, but 2020 saw a new CORONAVIRUS impact human life all over the world. The deadly illness it causes: COVID combines 2 words: CORONAVIRUS and DISEASE.


This article uses English IPA symbols – learn each of them with pronunciation notesdiagrams and audio in Pronunciation Studio’s free Starter Pack.