The Wordsmyth Word Of The Year for 2020 was “social distancing.” This past year, 2021, has been another year of challenges due to our prolonged pandemic. We would like to invite you to reflect on this year and consider which word has drawn our society’s attention to something important, something that links this past year with the future. In other words, what word do you think highlights a potentially lasting change in our awareness of our world and our ability to respond to it through effective communication. You can also tell us what significance this word has in your life, through personal experience or awareness of the experiences of others.

We will post some of the words and stories on the Wordsmyth blog and on social media. And at the end of the year 2021, our editors will review and select the 3 best essays. The winners of the WOTY 2021 Essay Contest will receive a free subscription for 2022.

Parents and educators, please encourage your students to participate. This is a great opportunity to help them to understand the deeper meaning of words in our lives. Language is shaping and being shaped by everyone’s life experience. Our shared experiences and our individual experiences are all part of the shaping of language, just as language is relevant to shaping our experiences.

English language learners all over the world, we’d love to hear your unique stories and diverse life experiences in this year that we have all continued to share in this pandemic crisis.

Below is an example from a member of the Wordsmyth staff:


verb (to garden)

Personal definition:
Gardening is guiding the plants growing around my home so that they express their beauty to the world. It includes my support through watering as needed and occasionally the fertilizing help of our cat and our neighbor’s dog.

Personal example:
I canceled my gym membership at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, gardening has been not only my physical exercise, but has also helped me to stay sane and hopeful.

Personal explanation:
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve heard many people talking about gardening. So I started to notice my garden, which has been covered by weeds. As I began to clean it, the garden reacted to my attention with more kindness and generosity.

Snowdrops shot out the still snow-covered ground in early spring, followed by daffodils. Later on, different perennial flowers came, one after another through summer, until fall. There are many flowers I’ve never seen before. With winter coming, I built a new compost site. The fallen leaves, branches, and other garden debris will become nutritious soil to enrich my garden next spring.

For me, the word “gardening” means much more than the activities people do in gardens. Through gardening, I am feeling the changing seasons and experiencing the cycle of life. I am reconnected with nature after having lost this connection for so long. And in 2021, gardening has become a way of coping and healing, and use of the word spread as the activity became more common.