35 words and phrases that defined 2020 | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

The year 2020 has been a strange one indeed, a year that introduced into our collective vocabulary words and phrases we never really needed before. Here are 35 of them:

Coronavirus. COVID, COVID-19, new coronavirus disease, SARS-CoV-2—call it whatever you want—but this was the virus that brought the world to a halt and made us feel like we were living in a sci-fi movie.

Pandemic. We never thought we’d ever use the word pandemic so much—and well, we never thought we’d live through one, too.

Face mask. In the past, face masks were those beauty sheets we use to pamper our faces with. Not anymore. Face masks have become a 2020 essential—not for skin care, but as protection from the virus. We went from Korean face masks to N95 masks. Face shield. Another layer of protection, another phrase we never used before.

PPE. Personal protective equipment—a term once relevant only to those who needed it for work—became widespread, especially during the early days of the pandemic when there was a shortage of PPE and multiple efforts were launched in the desire to provide protection to those who needed it, especially the front-liners. Which leads us to . . .

Front-liners. The heroes of this pandemic.

Essential workers. Also heroes of the pandemic.

Social distancing. Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin were mocked in 2014 when they announced their divorce and called it a “conscious uncoupling.” Who knew that the world would have its own version of that just six years later? Social distancing—staying at least six feet away from people outside of your household—is every introvert’s dream and the end of our social lives as we knew it. Flatten the curve. The whole point of social distancing. WFH or work from home. Once just a dream of many employees, the work-from-home setup became the norm for countless workers around the world. And with it came the realization that one, it’s not as fun and relaxing as it sounds, and two—surprise, surprise—you can actually be more productive at home than in the office.

Distance learning. Work from home, students’ edition. Which brings us to . . .

Modules. Educational materials used by students who are undergoing distance learning. Also, a source of hilarity and horror (mostly horror) because of their quality. (Insert facepalm emoji here.)

Lockdown. Yet another thing we thought we’d only see in movies. And those of us living in Manila got to experience the world’s longest lockdown.

Quarantine. Refusing to use the term lockdown, officials got creative and came up with ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), GCQ (general community quarantine), MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine), MGCQ (modified general community quarantine).

Zoom. The Colgate of videoconferencing services. Related term: Zoom fatigue.

“Naka-mute ka.” Have you really lived through the pandemic if these words haven’t left your mouth or if no one’s said them to you?

Webinars. There have been a million and one of these online seminars since the pandemic started, about every topic you can imagine.

E-numan. Trust creative social beings to come up with a way to still drink with friends even while social distancing.

Dolomite. As in, the dolomite sand used to beautify Manila Bay. Otherwise known as what the government chose to waste public funds on when the country has so many other needs in the face of the pandemic. (Insert another facepalm emoji here.)Alcohol. And not the kind we drink to try to forget what our government has been wasting money on. We mean ethyl, isopropyl alcohol that people have been using to sanitize their hands and everything else they touch. Related term: hand sanitizer.

New normal. A really nice way of saying “Holy crap, we are living in strange times.” Related term from the world’s optimists (and thank god they exist): better normal.

Pivot. Once a memorable catchphrase from the sitcom “Friends,” now a term for changes people and companies have made in the way they live and operate in order to survive the pandemic.

Contact tracing. The reason you need to scan QR (quick response) codes and fill out forms wherever you go.

Baking. Stuck inside their homes, even people who’ve never spent much time in their kitchen learned to bake.

Plantito/plantita. Plants became a big obsession for those in lockdown, birthing plantitos and plantitas—people devoted to taking care of and propagating plants.

Ube pan de sal. The top food trend to come out of the pandemic. Who knew that ube and cheese-filled purple pan de sal would be so comforting?

Sushi bake. Another major food trend in 2020. We’re not complaining. These maki casseroles are pretty damn good.

Swab test. Nasal or nasopharyngeal swab test used to determine if you have the virus. Related terms: PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, antigen test.Mental health. With the pandemic taking a toll on people’s mental well-being, 2020 was the year even those who never considered mental health a priority realized how important it is to stay not just physically healthy, but mentally sound, too.

Black Lives Matter. What started as a hashtag became a movement, with people taking to the streets to protest against racially motivated attacks and repeated instances of police brutality against black people.

Trump vs. Biden. Watching the results of the recent US elections felt like a spectator sport. (And it makes us wonder how things will go in 2022.)

Fake news. As persistent as COVID-19 and another curve that needs to be flattened (actually, completely eradicated)

Ulysses. As if Filipinos didn’t have enough to deal with, supertyphoons hit the country, submerging towns, displacing people, taking lives and making 2020 even more challenging than it already was. Related term: Rolly.

Unprecedented. We’ve gotten tired of using this word in our articles, but it can’t be helped. These truly are unprecedented times.

Compassion. The reason we continue to have hope in our hearts. The year 2020 might have been an incredibly difficult one, but during this time, we’ve also seen so many beautiful acts of empathy, kindness and humanity from all kinds of people, and for them we are grateful. INQ