Back in December 2019, we sat down and attempted to make a list of words you’d need for 2020. No one could have predicted the year that was about to unfold. Nor, could we imagine the vortex of new words needed to make sense of the pandemic.

For the Oxford English Dictionary, it was a year for unprecedented language – with ‘pandemic’, ‘coronavirus’ and ‘quarantine’ all listed as words of the year.

We also had to learn how to ‘zoom’, ‘bubble up’ and use ‘forehead thermometers.’ We clapped for ‘key workers’ and ‘sheltered-in-place.’

But now as we close the door to 2020, we’ll do our best to predict the words you’ll need for the year ahead. Let’s take a look at 8 English words for 2021:


Coronavirus and the pandemic


1. Clofficewear (n)

Definition: clothes that can be worn both at home and at work.

As we move into January, many of us will continue to work from home (WFH) or part-time from the office. So, ‘clofficewear’ will still be a popular word in 2021.

Clofficewear is a compound noun of the words ‘closet’ and ‘office.’ A closet, if you don’t already know, is the American word for a wardrobe. And ‘wear’ is another word for clothes.

So, what’s an example of clofficewear? Think leggings and a t-shirt with a collar. To others, it might look like you’re wearing a pair of smart work trousers or a crisp white shirt. But in reality, your outfit is just as comfortable as a pair of pyjamas.

And, it doesn’t look like clofficewear is going anywhere soon. The sale of spandex is currently up 60%!

8 English words you need for 2021_clofficewear | Oxford House Barcelona

2. Maskne (n)

Definition: the spots you get on the face from wearing a mask.

The stress caused by the pandemic – combined with wearing a mask for months on end – is having an effect on people’s skin. Now, lots of people are talking about ‘maskne.”

Maskne is the combination of the ‘mask’ and ‘acne.’ It’s caused by a face mask rubbing on your skin.

8 English words you need for 2021_maskne | Oxford House Barcelona

3. #Vaccinated (adj)

Definition: the hashtag you post once you receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

Vaccines against Covid-19 are beginning to rollout. Once people get vaccinated, many will want to share the good news.

So, expect to see an outpouring of the hashtag ‘#vaccinated’ trending on social media in the near future.


The internet and social media


4. Sharent (n)

Definition: a parent who uses social media to share photos or other information about their child.

Chances are you know a ‘sharent’. Who knows? You may even be one.

A sharent is a portmanteau of the words ‘share’ and ‘parent’. It comes from the phenomenon of parents excessively sharing information about their children on social media.

Let’s not get it wrong. A sharent is not someone who offers a simple brag now and again. It’s a parent who shares every little detail about their children’s lives (cue the tweet about last night’s dirty nappies ).

8 English words you need for 2021_sharent | Oxford House Barcelona

5. Techlash (n)

Definition: a strong negative reaction against the largest tech companies.

Growing hostility towards the tech giants is causing ‘techlash’. This is a combination of the words ‘tech’ (short for technology) and ‘backlash’ (a strong negative reaction caused by a large number of people).

Many well-known companies experienced techlash in 2020. Amazon failed to adhere to Covid-19 safety measures. And Facebook received criticism over the lack of fact-checking on political advertisements.


Race and gender politics


6. Allyship (n)

Definition: people with power and privilege working together to improve the lives of those from a marginalized group.

Last year, we saw an increase of online activism and people talking about Black Lives Matter and BLM.

‘Allyship’, however, is a lot more than this. It is about actively supporting people and groups that experience discrimination. It is an ongoing process that requires genuine action, both offline and in private.


7. Shecession (n)

Definition: an economic crisis that disproportionately affects women.

The 2008 recession was known as the ‘mancession’. But the economic crisis caused by the pandemic has caused greater economic difficulties for women. This has led to what newspapers are calling a ‘shecession’.

Back in April 2020, women accounted for 55% of the 20.5 million jobs lost in the U.S. The leisure, retail, education and hospitality industries were hit hardest last year, and these are industries that generally employ more women, particularly those who are Black or Latina.


Let’s end on a high note…


8. Resilience (n)

Definition: the ability to recover from difficulties.

Whereas publishers like Merriam Webster and Collins Dictionary chose ‘pandemic’ and ‘lockdown’ as their Words of the Year, Forbes and Thrive Global founder Arianna Huffington opted for ‘resilience’.

Resilience suggests hope, optimism and the opportunity for growth. And, we think it’s the perfect word to carry us into 2021.


Want to make learning English your New Year’s resolution? Check out all our new courses starting in 2021.

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram for all the latest Oxford House news.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Unfold (v): to develop or happen.

Bubble up (v): to form a support bubble or become one household with another person.

Shelter-in-place (v): an official order that asks people to stay indoors.

Crisp (adj): a perfectly ironed shirt.

Portmanteau (n): a word that blends the sounds and combines the meanings of two other words. Eg. motel or brunch.

Brag (v): to speak with too much pride.

Nappies (n): diapers (BrE).

Ongoing (adj): continuous.


v = verb

adj = adjective

n = noun

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