Global Language Monitor Announces That ‘Covid’ is the Top Word of 2020

Global Language Monitor Announces That ‘Covid’ is the Top Word of 2020 (Top 50 #WOTY Ranked)

Global Language Monitor Announces That 'Covid' is the Top Word of 2020




Global Language Monitor (GLM), the data research company that documents, analyzes, and tracks trends in language usage worldwide, has announced that Covid is the Top Word of 2020 in its mid-year update.

It’s no surprise that ‘covid’ has risen to the top of the rankings,” said Paul JJ Payack, President and Chief Word Analyst of GLM. “However, ‘covid’ has received the highest number of citations ever recorded in our global survey. In fact, ‘covid’ has outranked all previous Words of the Year in the 21st century by a factor of 100, or more.”

Covid is the commonly used shorthand for the shorthand for Covid-19. Covid-19 is the official name of the virus caused by the SARS CoV-2 virus, so named in WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

Covid-19 is ranked No. 2 on GLM’s mid-year update. The Top Ten Words of the Year (#WOTY) for 2020 include Covid, Covid-19, Coronavirus, Corona, Face mask, Progress, Truth, Social Distancing, Trade War, and Sustainability.

Top Words of the Year of 2020 (#WOTY2020) mid-year update follow (Rank, Word, Definition/Comment).

Please Note:  Typically, the Global Language Monitor publishes the Top Twenty Words in its rankings.  In this #WOTY2020 mid-year update, for the historical record, we are extending the published rankings to the Top Fifty. 

Global Language Monitor
Top Words of 2020 for Global English (Mid-year Update
Rank Word   Definition
1 Covid The shorthand for Covid-19 has the largest number of citations ever recorded in the 21st century.
2 Covid-19 The name of the virus caused by the SARS CoV-2 by   WHO’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD).
3 Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 full name of virus that causes Covied-19.
4 Corona From the Latin for ‘crown’.  Compare the Sun’s corona during a total eclipse.
5 Face mask A face covering that helps halt the spread of Covid-19 to varying degrees depending on the material and number of layers.
6 Progress The belief that society moves ever towards betterment
7 Truth The idea that there is an objective, discernible reality for humans to discover and cherish.
8 Social Distancing The distance individuals should keep from each other to lessen risk of virus transmission, usually about 2 meters or six feet.
9 Trade War Colossal struggle between US and China with worldwide repercussions.
10 Sustainability Creating an environment that supplies certain needs without comprmising future production. 
11 Flatten the Curve The ability to manage the number of case so as to not overwhelm the hospital system.
12 Lockdown Restricting movement outside home or district.
13 Identity Politics Politics based on certain elements of one’s makeup, such as skin color or ethic background, or gender.
14 Progressives The word ‘liberal’ outlived its usefulness as the description of one’s political leanings.
15 Zoom Group meetings held over videoconferencing channels.
16 Quarantine Restricting physical movements to one’s home or institution, often separated from all others.
17 Migrants People moving from one nation to another.
18 Donald Trump Donald J. Trump, the 46th president of the US.
19 Symptoms Physical conditions that may signify the presence of a virus or illness.
20 Outbreak The seemingly sudden appearance of a disease in a community or geographic location.
21 CDC The Centers fo Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia.
22 Conservatives Political philosophy that favors saving the best from the past while moving toward the future.
23 Unemployment Highest unemployment numbers the US has seen since the Great Recession — and possibly the Depression.
24 Climate Change Climate change has ranked in the Top Ten for the last dozen years or so. 
25 Hand Sanitizer Washing one’s hands with an anti-bacterial soap for thirty seconds is a strong barrier against Covid-19.
26 White Privilege Supposed advantages carried by Whites by virture of their ethnic heritage.
27 The Pandemic Current global pandemic precipitated by SARS-CoV-2.
28 The Virus Shorthand for Covid-19.
29 Work at Home The result of social distancing guidelines where employees must stay separated from each other.
30 Stimulus Massive $3 trillion+ funding effort by the US Federal Government to help keep families (and the economy) afloat.
31 George Floyd George Floyd, a black American, was killed by a police officer kneeling on his neck for some eight minutes in Minneapolis.  His death sparked global protests.
32 Black Lives Matter A movement protesting police brutality against African-Americans.  
33 Woke The state of suddenly becoming aware of social injustices in the society.
34 Joe Biden Presumptive presidential nominee of the Democrat Party against President Trump.
35 Wuhan Largest city in Central China, capital of Hubei Province, population 11,000,000; original epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak.
36 WHO WHO – World Health Organization was established in 1948 by the United Nations as the agency overseeing international public health.
37 Disinfectant A chemical agent that kills bacteria.
38 New Normal The new reality of the pandemic-ravaged world.
38 MAGA Campaign slogan of President Trump in 2016.
39 Fake News Packaged news, planted sources, one-sided exposes, party lines, and official narratives are a new phenomenon only to those with no sense of history.
40 Shelter-in-place Being confined to one’s home or institution to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
41 Nancy Pelosi The Speaker of the House of Representatives; the highest ranked Democratic office holder.
42 Self Isolate Quarantined for a minimum of 14 days after being exposed to Covid-19 to help stop the spread of the virus.
43 Dr. Anthony Fauci Dr. Anthony Fauci is director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
44 “I Can’t Breathe” The last words uttered by George Floyd as he lay dying at the hands of Minneapolis police.
45 Essential Workers    Those workers who perform ‘essential’ tasks during the coronavirus pandemic, most notably in healthcare, food production and distribution, and the service sector.
46 Wet Market Outdoor markets that offer recently slaughtered meat, fish and poultry; sometimes including live animals.
47 Impeach Trump The Trump impeachment effort ended with a vote of acquittal on February 5, 2020, just as the pandemic was taking off in the US
48 Defund Police A movement to re-focus police departments to social welfare duties.
49 Super Spreader A single person or event that propagates ‘clusters’ of the outbreak.   Some 20% of infected super spreaders could be responsible for 80% of viral transmission.
50 Dr. Deborah  Birx Dr. Deborah Birx is the  Coronavirus Response Coordinator, White House Coronavirus Task Force.
The Global Language Monitor


Typically, the Global Language Monitor ranks words, phrases, and names on three separate lists, and the lists are limited to 20 items. For this effort, GLM has combined the lists and extended the word count to 50 items. 

Global Language Monitor began recording the Top Words of the Year in 2000 to document the history of the 21st Century through the English language, the world’s first truly global language. The words are culled throughout the English-speaking world, which as of January 2018 ranks more than 2.58 billion speakers. Global Language Monitor employs its NarrativeTracker​ technologies for global internet and social media analysis.

NarrativeTracker is based on global discourse, providing a real-time, accurate picture about any topic, at any point in time. NarrativeTracker analyzes the internet, blogosphere, and the top 300,000 print and electronic global media as well as new social media sources as they emerge.

In addition, the Global Language Monitor has also tracked the Top Words, Phrases and Names of the 21st Century.

More information about these and the company can be found at

About Global Language Monitor

Based in Austin, Texas, the Global Language Monitor collectively documents, analyzes and tracks trends in language usage worldwide, with a particular emphasis upon the English language. The company is known for its Word of the Year, political analysis, college and university rankings, high-tech buzzwords, and media analytics. For more information, visit

Media Contact:

Paul JJ Payack​

1 737.215.7750

Source: Global Language Monitor


Categories: International NewsGeneral Interest

Tags: 2020data researchGlobal Language MonitorlanguageTop Words of the YeartrendingtrendsWOTY2020

The Plague: The Imminent Danger (and increasing threat) of the “Super Spreader” Phenomenon

Commentary by Paul JJ Payack

    Paul JJ Payack

There is a very real and imminent threat of the emergence of “Super Spreaders” from the coronavirus pandemic.  This threat appears to be largely overlooked in an analysis of the news media recently completed by Austin-based Global Language Monitor, the data research company.

This risk of the emergence of ‘super spreaders’ has been significantly heightened  by three factors:  the gradual re-opening of the American economy, people flocking to summertime activities after Memorial Day, and the mass protests that have arisen since the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25th, 2020.  

Official statistics concerning the number of protesters have not been officially tallied, but it is reasonable to assume that there have been more than 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 participating in the US-based protests with another 500,000 in the rest of the world. The period of the protests continues lasted about two weeks ending with the march on Washington, on June 6, 2020.  Many participated on multiple days, multiplying chances of exposure.  

There has been significant research in the clustering and superspreader phenomena particularly since the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

On-going research, such as “Clustering and superspreading potential of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections in Hong Kong” are currently in the process of peer review,  This and other similar studies are being posted online before the completion of the peer review process because of the severity of the on-going crisis.

The study suggests that most new cases of Covid-19 are propagated by ‘superspreaders’ and not by direct contact or one-on-one transmission.   Researchers assessed more than 1,000 infections in Hong Kong between January 23 and April 28.   The authors used intense contact tracing to determine the manner in which persons were infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.   Other researchers have found that some 20% of Covid-19 carriers are responsible for about 80% of disease transmissions

Scientists tracking the new coronavirus’ spread have generally focused on two numbers:  reproduction number (Rο) pronounced ‘R-nought), which represents the average number of new infections caused by a single infected person. The second is called the dispersion factor (k), a number indicating the likelihood that a particular disease will spread in clusters.

Without any social distancing, the new coronavirus’ R-number, according to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), is around 2.6 - 3.5 

This is where the K factor, measuring dispersion, comes into play. As opposed to the R number, the lower the lower the K number, the more likely it is the virus is propagated by small group of people.

Recent evidence concerning super spreading events abounds:  a meeting of pharmaceutical executives in Boston;  a house party in Westport, Connecticut; and a choir practice in Washington State, among many others.  Each of these smaller events resulted in the transmission of the virus to scores or hundreds of individuals.

Perhaps the most well-known of the current crop of superspreaders is the unnamed bartender at an Austrian Ski Resort.  Contact tracing found some 1300 infections in a number of countries traced to this particular transmitter.  Infections were traced to Iceland, Norway, Austria, and Germany.

Also of note is the finding that the key method of transmission appears to be exercising one’s lungs:  talking, singing, shouting, and speech-giving.  This makes any large gathering problematic in the extreme; whether cheering at a Trump rally, singing on a beach or shouting at a protest.

There is some concern that the fact of the potential exponential progression of the transmission of Covid-19. is not being widely discussed in the media, as shown below.  

The first graphic shows that as the Coronavirus Rapidly Spread in January, the pandemic that would ultimately take the lives of some 100,000 Americans by Labor Day, was treated as an after thought, the News Media was Focused on the Impeachment of President  Trump by a 10:1 Margin (Source: Google Trends).  

The second graphic shows that after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis Police on May 25, the news media, overlooked the potential  for the exponential growth of the virus led by the superspreader phenomenon.  The ratio was 2:1 protests vs. Covid-19 stories, with virtually no mention of the inherent danger of the superspreader phenomenon.


According to Preliminary Estimation of the Basic Reproduction Number of Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China, “The mean estimate of R0 for the 2019-nCoV ranges from 2.24 to 3.58, and is significantly larger than 1” 

This is especially troubling since a recent article in the New York Times,  an epidemiologist  opined  about the number of infections that could be attributed to the recent protests are based on his assumption that  “Over several weeks, as each infected person infected just under one other person on average — the current U.S. transmission rate — those infections would in turn lead to 15,000 to 50,000 more, and 50 to 500 eventual deaths”.   The article does not mention the possibility of the Superspreader Phenomenon.

If the effective R nought rate is indeed closer to that found in the HKUST study and if superspreaders lurk in the midst of these crowds,  both of which seem likely, than the number of infections would increase by a factor of ten, or more.

The New York Times article concluded that “Societal benefit of continued protests must be weighed against substantial potential impacts to health.”  According to the CDC,  some 60% of those deaths would be suffered by persons of color.

In another study, Clustering and superspreading potential of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections in Hong Kong,  Benjamin  Cowling of Princeton University, one of the study coauthors, told Business Insider, “Superspreading events are happening more than we expected, more than what could be explained by chance. The frequency of superspreading is beyond what we could have imagined”.

Study the figure below: Transmission network associated with a single wedding exposure subsequently linked to a preceding social gathering and local source exposure.  Again, the graphic was based on contact tracing in Hong Kong.

From:  Clustering and superspreading potential of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections in Hong Kong

Now consider the timely and very real example  of  the infamous Philadelphia Parade at the height of the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918.


A huge parade was scheduled in the summer of 1918, the height of the Spanish Flu epidemic, to take place in the heart of Philadelphia.  It purpose was to raise money to support the ‘dough boys’ that had recently been shipped off to Europe to end the stalemate of the horrific ‘trench warfare’.  

Some 200,000 people thronged Broad Street on parade day, along a two-mile route; they cheered as the procession passed along the route.  The unintended result:  within a few days, every hospital bed in he city was occupied.  Within a week, nearly 3,000 died.  Ultimately some 20,000 would die.

The parade was for worthy cause:  The ending of the Great War.  World War I ended with a death toll of some 20,000,000.

Was participating in this colossal event, showing one’s commitment to the cause, to help change the course of world events worth the risk?  Most, at the time,  would have answered yes.


For Other Articles on Covid-19, click here.