Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year 2021 Is….

It's the root of many words we used this past year

The English word of the year is “vax”.

Wait! Is that even really a word? Isn’t it just a unofficial short form for “vaccination” that came into vogue this year? Actually, it’s a word that has been used since the 1980s. But, it has made “the most striking impact this year”.

The Oxford English Dictionary senior editor Fiona McPherson says, “When you add to that its versatility in forming other words – vaxxievax-a-thonvaxinista – it became clear that vax was the standout in the crowd.”

Vax and vaxx are both accepted spellings but the form with one x is more common.


Oxford English Dictionary definitions for vax:

  • vax n. A vaccine or vaccination
  • vax v. Treat (someone) with a vaccine to produce immunity against a disease; vaccinate
  • vaxxie n. A photograph of oneself taking during or immediately before or after a vaccination, especially one against Covid-19, and typically shared on social media; a vaccination selfie
  • anti-vax adj. Opposed to vaccination
  • anti-vaxxer n. A person who is opposed to vaccination
  • double-vaxxed adj. Having received two doses of a vaccine

Other Words of the Year

In 2020, The Oxford English Dictionary did not choose one single word of the year. There were too many to choose from including, lockdownbushfires and Covid-19, as well as Black Lives MatterWFH [working from home], keyworkers and furlough.

In 2019 the word was “Climate Emergency” while in in 2018 it was “toxic” and, in 2017, “youthquake”. “Post-Truth” was the word of the year in 2016 while the Emoji tears of joy ( 😂) was crowned in 2015.