“Quaratineek” is one of them. Feel free to add your own to the list.
Every year, new words and phrases are added to the Oxford Dictionary, from “selfie” to “amirite”. So, as 2020 draws to a close, I’ve come up with my own nominations. See my three top picks below.
This word should definitely be easy to identify and, after 2020, it’s earned its position at the top of the list.
For a little rundown on the semantic breakdown behind this word, eagle eyed readers might have noticed that “Quarantineek” is nearly a compound word. Now, for reference, a compound word is simply two words combined together to fuse into a new one, often with a completely separate meaning, like “dragonfly” or “sunflower.”
However, “Quarantineek” actually isn’t a compound word, since it derives meaning from parts of both words that form to create it: it’s a portmanteau. Portmanteau, otherwise known as a blend, is a word that results from “blending” two separate words together to create a word that means, in part, both of them. My favorite example of this sort of word that I could find, in no small part because I’m currently watching season 1 of The Crown, is “smog” which comes from “smoke” and “fog” mixed together.
Quaratineek is a portmanteau which meshes “quarantine” with “week”. The final letter in the former is a perfect gateway to the latter, serving as a seamless transition between both words.
Pronunciation: Pronounced as “kwak-ruhn-teek” or “prolonged hell”, Quaratineek is a noun, with first known usage beginning in April of 2020.
1. Each week that takes places in that takes place in a lockdown or quarantine because your government could not get it together such so that the weeks begin to blend into a prolonged state of temporal time.
“Stating in March of 2020, I felt my weeks slowly merging together to become a single quaratineek.”
2. A period of time over which weeks merge together due to an outside driving force, like a pandemic, that forces the speaker to emphasize the “eek” (informal exclamation) in “quaratineek”, to allow listeners an insight into how they really feel, and provide consolation.
“It’s the first week of August? I thought I was going to learn to code and clean my room the last week of June. I can’t keep track of these quaratinEEEEEEKs!
This word is a little less self explanatory than the one above but worry not: we’ll get there.
The above verb, to J-swan, would be a direct homonym (a word that sounds the same) and a homograph (a word with the same spelling) as the noun “swan” or the informal British verb “swan”, which means “to move about or go somewhere in a casual, relaxed way, typically perceived as irresponsible or ostentatious by others” if not for the single “J” preceding the “swan” by a hyphen.
With the latter half of the word having Germanic roots dating back to the 12th century, and the first initial invoking to mind rapper “J-Cole”, getting “j-swanned” is, surprisingly, related to neither.
First seen in American slang during the aftermath of a July 2020 interview of Donald Trump, conducted by reporter Johnathan Swan, to j-swan someone means, in short, to use follow up questions during an interview to expose the interviewees inherent lack of any substantial knowledge on the subject matter under questioning.
One could go a step further and state that J-swanning, when done to the right interviewee, like a president, can reveal a void of any sort of knowledge at all.
Pronunciation: Pronounced as “Jay-swaan”, J-swan is a verb with the first known usage appearing shortly after an interview conducted by Axiom reporter Johnathan Swan.
1. To use mild but persistent follow up questions during an interview to confirm the expertise, or lack thereof, of the interviewee.
Josh said he’d be a good fit because he studied computer engineering but when I asked him what a computer is, he started to fidget. I totally j-swanned him and, honestly, he couldn’t tell me what a browser was or any of his college course names.
My interviewer just started j-swanning me for the last twenty minutes. FML, Leslie!
2. To follow up, gently but repeatedly during any situation to confirm that the person you are talking to has, like, no f**king clue whatsoever.
“I don’t want to j-swan you, but we were supposed to be in Brooklyn and that sign says New Jersey. Are you sure we shouldn’t head back? Oh? What point of New Jersey feeds back into Brooklyn again?
Derived from the Japanese noun “Hikikomori”, which means a person who has completely withdrawn from society to live as a recluse, the English derivative “Sikikomori” is a person who’s withdrawn from their current environment, family, and friends during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sikikomori’s differ from their Japanese counterparts as many believe the formers decision to withdraw from society is nearly completely rooted in the fear of contracting or spreading a novel virus rather than an unexplained societal phenomena.
Moreover, once again distinguishing themselves from Hikikomoris, scientists and sociologists (probably) theorize that once the pandemic is over, Sikikomoris will reappear in society. They also do not go through the complete withdrawals that their Japanese counterparts do, instead preferring to use technological advancements, like Tinder, Tik-Tok, and Zoom, to keep in constant contact with work, potential hookups, and college friends.
Pronunciation: Pronounced “sicˌkēkəˈmôri/”, “Sikikomori is a noun that first appeared in December of 2020, as New York City announced that New Yorkers should prepare for a second shutdown.
- A person who withdraws from society for good reason, with the expectation that they will reappear when the time is right.
“Katya’s become a total sikikomori during the pandemic. She won’t even go out for a socially distanced walk in the park.”
“Honestly, I know my friends are flying down to Mexico and Miami constantly but I’d rather stay a sikikomori and not get anyone killed because I’m that level of selfish.”
Conclusion: I’m not sure if any of these words will make it close to the Oxford dictionary, unless I choose to buy a copy and scribble them on myself, but I’m ok with that. Let me know what words you think work best to describe the year that’s been the worst!