Cambridge Dictionary’s 2021 Word Of The Year Has An Interesting Double Meaning
By Mikelle Leow, 18 Nov 2021
Photo 87397638 © Pavel Chagochkin | Dreamstime.com
Most words of the year are words that sum up feelings or were uttered frequently in the past 365 days. Those obviously resonate, but Cambridge Dictionary’s 2021 word of the year is twice as significant.
2021’s word is “perseverance,” an apt depiction of the world’s resilience after its reality was rattled in 2020. The textbook, or dictionary, definition of perseverance is the “continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time.”
It’s a word signifying the will of frontliners who’ve put a brave face on for COVID-19 patients, the hope of activists fighting for positive change, the quiet independence of many separated from their loved ones, and the patience of parents who now have to juggle remote work and caring for their children 24/7.
It’s the choice to do it all again, no matter how tough it gets.
“This word captures the undaunted will of people across the world to never give up, despite the many challenges of 2021,” the dictionary explains in a statement.
Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
However, this is 2021, after all, where the mention of perseverance sets off thoughts of space exploration. Perseverance, as you might already know, is also the name of the NASA Mars rover that’s been traversing the Red Planet to collect rock samples and look out for signs of microbial life. With the current fascination in space travel, the choice to reference a Mars icon does strike a chord.
It’s perhaps mainly for this reason that the term “perseverance” was looked up 243,000 times around the world this year, according to Cambridge Dictionary.
Fittingly, the rover got its name from an essay written by a seventh-grader who pondered at what the word meant. In his entry for NASA’s naming contest, Alexander Mather from Virginia declared how existing rovers—Curiosity, Insight, Spirit, and Opportunity—are all “qualities we possess as humans… but, if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we missed the most important thing: perseverance.”
“We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh,” continued Mather. “We are a species of explorers and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation, but as humans, will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.”
Drawing parallels between the two meanings, Wendalyn Nichols, Cambridge Dictionary publishing manager, told Mashable: “Just as it takes perseverance to land a rover on Mars, it takes perseverance to face the challenges and disruption to our lives from COVID-19, climate disasters, political instability and conflict. We appreciated that connection, and we think Cambridge Dictionary users do, too.”
We can officially announce that the Cambridge Dictionary #WordoftheYear2021 is... 🥁— Cambridge Dictionary (@CambridgeWords) November 17, 2021
perseverance (noun): continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time
Find out more here: https://t.co/8kFuhcWr7i #CambridgeWOTY pic.twitter.com/qvz2FPxq3I
[via Mashable, images via various sources]
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