And OED wordsmiths have certainly acknowledged the pandemic’s influence on the national conversation. Anti-vaxxer is one of a few virus-related terms added to the OED after seeping into the national consciousness over the past 18 months ‑ another being “long Covid”.
But while the Covid term appears to have been used first on social media in May 2020, the origins of the anti-vaxxer movement date back more than 200 years to a letter by the English pioneer of vaccinations, Edward Jenner.
Papers show that in 1812 Jenner, who invented the vaccination for smallpox, wrote to a friend to complain: “The Anti-Vacks are assailing me with all the force they can muster in the newspapers”.
Other new OED offerings include snackette, a colloquial word for a small snack, first recorded back in 1952.
Another is bath bomb, which originated in the form of small cakes of bath salts being sold in shops in Illinois, US as early as 1925.
More recent, tech-inspired words have also joined this OED update. Teenage tennis sensation Emma Raducanu joked that her parents were “ghosting her” by not responding to her text messages this week.
The term “ghosting” has been added ‑ defined as “an action of ignoring or pretending not to know someone, especially suddenly ceasing to respond to someone on social media or via text, or suddenly ending a relationship or association this way”.
The BBC has come under fire for its growing obsession with bants broadcasting, which involves presenters engaging in less formal and more playful conversations, known as banter. Popular use means bants and bantery were both inserted this year.
People guilty of brownnosing now have an official OED definition, too ‑ and the term means excessive or insincere flattery with the aim of gaining favour or advancement.
Meanwhile, willy-waving is making its first-ever appearance as a term for boastful or exaggerated demonstrations of machismo, toughness or superiority.
And leaping from the web’s Urban Dictionary to the pages of the esteemed publication is the greeting wagwan which literally means “What’s going on?” and is derived from Jamaican street language.