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'Vax' is Oxford's 2021 word of the year

"No word better captures the atmosphere of the past year than vax."

"Vax" is Oxford Languages' word of the year.

"Whether you are vaxxed, double-vaxxed, or unvaxxed, the language relating to vaccines and vaccination permeated all of our lives in 2021," said a report from Oxford, exploring the word and its striking rise in use.

In a statement, Oxford added: "A relatively rare word in our corpus until this year, by September it was over 72 times more frequent than at the same time last year. No word better captures the atmosphere of the past year than vax."

Oxford Languages noted that "jab" in the UK and "shot" in the U.S. are synonyms of vax, but both have other meanings and are used as common colloquialisms only in certain regions taking them out of the running.

In the age of social media, vax led to words like vaxxie — a selfie taken while getting the Covid-19 shot — and vaxinista — a person who flaunts their vaccinated status by going out more and traveling more (taking vaxications).

While vax only dates back to the 1980s, anti-vax, with a different spelling, was first used in the early 1800s, not long after the word vaccinated was first recorded after English physician and scientist Edward Jenner’s work on vaccination against smallpox, Oxford Languages notes.

Jenner wrote in a letter in 1812 that "The Anti-Vacks are assailing me ... with all the force they can muster in the newspapers."