The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, November 17, 2020 1:00 am

'Pivoting' has become trendy term this year

TERRI RICHARDSON | The Journal Gazette

I didn't realize it, but apparently all this time as I shifted, shuffled and rearranged my work and home life, I was pivoting.

My guess is that you have been pivoting as well the past eight months.

I thought I had heard or read most of the words being thrown about regarding COVID-19, but it wasn't until I talked to Michael Galbraith, president of the Downtown Improvement District, that I was told this was the year for “pivoting,” especially for local organizations. And he was right. It wasn't long after that I saw the word popping up everywhere. It appears that everyone is “pivoting their focus.”

To say the pandemic has spawned a whole new way we talk for 2020 is a bit of an understatement. In fact, experts predict the disease is set to launch more new words this year than any other cataclysmic event since the last world war.

According to, big news events typically lead to a number of people looking up certain related words or phrases on the dictionary site. It reported that throughout March, the top 50 most searched for definitions on the website were COVID-19 related.

And it appears that although people were initially interested in COVID-19 words, now they are just sick of them. asked people through Twitter what words that were related to the pandemic did they never want to hear again. Top responses included social distance, new normal and all those “times” – trying, unprecedented and uncertain.

That doesn't include all the slang words that have originated. The worst so far, reported by last month, included covidiot, quaranteam, anti-ma, maskne and let's not forget 'Rona. While it's short for coronavirus, it sounds like that family aunt that everyone dreads to see during the holidays. But maybe that's the point.

I'm always interested in finding out what words the dictionary gurus pick as the word of the year. Merriam-Webster's 2019 word was the non-binary pronoun “they.” Oxford's was climate emergency, while's was existential.

Of course, we may have to consider a word may come out of this election year. Again, some of the top searched words on Merriam-Webster after the first presidential debate in September included “white supremacist,” “Antifa,” “petulant” and “fascism.”

We are still a couple of months from knowing what the top word will be, but, considering that the coronavirus has pretty much dominated every part of our lives, including the presidential election, I would expect that the chosen word will come out of the pandemic, at least from one of the dictionary sites.

If anything, with the number of us researching and searching terms and information, we should come out of this somewhat much more educated. Well ... we can all hope so, right?

But if you are looking for meanings while you are in iso, hopefully you aren't doomscrolling instead. (It's OK, you can go look them up.) 


Terri Richardson writes about area residents and happenings that affect their lives in this column that publishes every other week. Email her at or call 461-8304.

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