“Quarantine” was Lexico.com’s 2020 word of the year after experiencing a record number of searches for the term in March 2020. This is the first year that Lexico.com even had a “word of the year”! Below is some information on the term from their site.
Quarantine: defined as ‘a state, period, or place of isolation in which people who may have been exposed to infectious disease are placed’, the word quarantine has stood at the centre of the profound ways Covid-19 changed society and language in 2020.From Lexico.com
The largest spike in searches for quarantine across Lexico’s dictionaries occurred on 18 March, coinciding with many of the first government lockdown orders and guidelines from leading organisations like the CDC (Centres for Disease Control) in response to the coronavirus. That day, just one week after the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 a pandemic, lookups for quarantine surged 15,180% compared to the beginning of 2020. User interest in quarantine maintained significant volume through the year, averaging a 323% increase relative to data available for 2019.From Lexico.com
An origin close to home
As used in medicine, quarantine is first recorded in English in the mid-17th century, a borrowing of the Italian quarantina, ‘forty days’, based on quaranta, ‘forty’, ultimately derived from the Latin quadrāgintā, meaning the same. During the bubonic plague in the 1400s, quarantina referred to the period of time ships suspected of carrying disease were barred from port. The etymology is resonant, not only given its origins in a past pandemic, but also as some of the earliest outbreaks of Covid-19 struck cruise ships.From Lexico.com
Read more about “quarantine” its use and the various places it popped up last year in 2020 from Lexico’s website and its page dedicated to 2020’s word of the year: https://www.lexico.com/explore/word-of-the-year
As an ode to 2020, the year of COVID-19 and quarantine, here is a poem I wrote.
It’s a waiting game
and the virus
Isolation from invisible pathogens
Lurking in the air
Every breath drawing in fear
of the unknown
Quarantine is like a prison
Solitary left only with thoughts
Waiting for the end
Fourteen days feel like fourteen years
Withdrawn from the previous way of life
Making sense of a new normal
Counting down the days
© 2021 Jason A. Muckley
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