'Vaccine' takes over from 'confinement' as the word of the year for the Fundéu

The Urgent Spanish Foundation (FundéuRAE), promoted by the EFE Agency and the Royal Spanish Academy, has chosen "vaccine" as the word of the year 2021. In addition to its great presence in the social, political, scientific and economic debate, the Foundation He has selected it for its linguistic interest.

In addition to "vaccine", among those chosen were "denier" and "variant". Two others were related to the way in which the pandemic has altered our lives: "shortages" and "camper." The other candidates alluded to the environment ("eco-anxiety", "carbon neutrality"), technology ("metaverse", "cryptocurrency") and other current issues ("fajana", "megawatt", "Taliban").

Origin of the word

The concept of "vaccine" arose in the 18th century as a result of the discovery by the English physician Edward Jenner that those infected with smallpox of animal origin, vaccinated or bovine, were protected against human smallpox. In Spanish, "vaccina" was used for a time (created from the Latin "vaccinus", that is, 'from the cow'), but ended up being imposed "vaccine" that appears for the first time in the "Dictionary" of the RAE in 1803, although not with its current meaning, which was included in 1914.

This voice and its derivatives, such as "vaccination" or "vaccinated", have been present throughout the Spanish-speaking world this year, either in isolation or as part of more extensive constructions: "booster vaccine", "mass vaccination point "," vaccination schedule "... It is a word that has even motivated the appearance of neologisms, new concepts such as" vacunodrome "(formed with the cultured base" -dromo ", which refers to a large space destined to determined purposes) or "vacuguagua" (acronym for "vaccination" and "guagua").

The FundéuRAE has dedicated numerous recommendations to him during 2021, several of them focused on his confusion with other terms, such as "serum", "antidote" or "immunization". Likewise, its use with certain verbs has raised doubts ("inoculate" is a generic term to refer to administering a vaccine, while "inject" refers to a specific way of doing it).

Other related voices have also featured in recommendations and consultations from the Foundation this year, such as "trypanophobia" ('irrational fear of injections') or "herd immunity" (to refer to the theory that, if the majority of a population immunized against a virus, this group will provide indirect protection to the unvaccinated). The words related to the coronavirus grouped an important part of the candidates for the word of the year of the FundéuRAE of 2021, as it already happened in 2020.

History of the FundéuRAE

The first word of the year for the Foundation was "escrache", in 2013, followed by "selfi" (2014), "refugee" (2015), "populism" (2016), "aporophobia" (2017), "microplastic "(2018), emojis (2019) and" confinement "(2020). This 2021, the winner is "vaccine", which designates one of the concepts that has been heard the most in the media since the end of 2020.

The FundéuRAE is a non-profit institution whose objective is to promote the proper use of Spanish, especially in the media. To do this, it issues daily linguistic recommendations linked to current news and answers hundreds of queries via telephone, email, the web and social networks.


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