Words and Phrases to Appreciate in 2020 and Others I’d Rather Forget About

The Washington Post and The New York Times have put out articles asking their readers to describe 2020 in words or phrases. The top 3 words according to WaPo were exhausting, lost and chaotic. Others described this year as either a dumpster fire, nightmare, surreal or relentless being the most popular. The New York Times listed several phrases relevant to this year including Black Lives Matter, contract tracing, essential workers, and flatten the curve. There are several words or phrases that people want to forget this year according to a poll taken by Hotels.com in Great Britain, including unprecedented times, the new normal, and social distancing. While I agree with these articles’ sentiments, I have my own words that I want to forget post-pandemic (I don’t think we are going to be able to forget about them next year but it would be more realistic to forget about them once the pandemic ends) and some words that I appreciate more now this year.

The following words are have become more prevalent this year. I foresee myself using an adjective if they are ever described in a sentence in the future or I will just cringe. They are no order of how cringeworthy they are to me:

Social distancing

I’m naturally an introvert and don’t necessarily like people close to me unless you are family or a close friend. Hearing this term ad nauseum this year as this was a guideline communicated by the CDC was exhausting to hear and is still something I’m trying to adjust to when I go to the store. It’s not even “social” distancing; it’s technically physical distancing. Either way, I could live without hearing this phrase for the rest of my life.


Please come up with another word to say that you need to stay home for the duration. Sequester or staying home would be fine. I think “quarantine” is more appropriate to use when one or multiple people are sick in one household. Essentially, you are quarantined from the outside world. I don’t think it’s necessarily appropriate to use for people that are staying home because it’s recommended to do so to stay healthy.

Flatten the Curve

This phrase was popular early in the pandemic when we were told to hunker down for two weeks until the government could figure out how to handle this and maybe we could return to life as normal. Unfortunately, our efforts to flatten the curve have not brought us back to business as usual, which is what makes it more irritating to hear.

“New Normal”

Nothing about this pandemic and what we’ve all had to deal with is normal. Restrictions have been taking place for a long period of time, but we all know they are temporary. Life will return to the way it used to be with some adjustments, but masks and social distancing will hopefully not be a part of our normal society in the future.

Voter Fraud/Stop the Steal

Voter fraud occurs during every election. The discussion of this topic has been brought to the forefront and changes could be made to processes across the United States. It’s not as widespread as President Trump thinks it is and I’m sure he knows it. Never in my life did I think an outgoing president would act like a man-child on the way out, but here we are. Just add it to the oddities of 2020.

Now that I’ve gotten the bad words off my chest (in more ways than one), these are the words and phrases for which I have a newfound appreciation:

Frontline Workers

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are important even when a pandemic isn’t taking place. They were mentally overwhelmed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but these people have been taken to their breaking point daily. I can’t even describe the amount of gratitude that I have for people working at hospitals, doctors’ offices, etc. that have seen the devastation caused by this virus firsthand. I couldn’t imagine working on the conditions they have been working in for the past nine months. I thank them immensely for their work.

Essential Workers

While I’m not in love with this phrase since I think everyone’s work is essential and has a place in the economy, I think it’s crazy how much we realize that we take our grocery store workers, warehouse workers, Amazon and UPS Drivers, etc. for granted. These are the people that don’t get paid a lot but have had to deal with customers that are either nervous to go out or irritated beyond belief that the store ran out of something or just about life in general. They deserve a continuous round of applause for their work.

Personal Protective Equipment

It became crucial for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care facilities to have this in the beginning of the pandemic. It broke my heart to see people wearing trash bags as protective equipment; this is not the America I know and not the America I want to see in the future. I’m not sure if this remains a problem for our health care workers, but I damn sure hope it’s not.

Remote Learning

Teachers deal with a lot of…stuff even when a pandemic isn’t taking place. I commend those in education that have had to adjust rather quickly to teaching their students remotely. I’m hoping this isn’t something that continues once the pandemic ends since there are more benefits to being in school than not. While I bet it hurts for teachers not to be able to meet your students, especially this year, be proud of the fact that you were able to alter your plans at what seems like drop of the hat.

This shows that despite all the crap we have had to deal with, find gratitude in those that have helped you to navigate this hell of a year. Let me know what words have really made you cringe from this year and the words with which you have found new appreciation.



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