Daily Briefing

What's New?

The Politics page has been updated to reflect the winners in Pennsylvania's general election on November 3, 2020.

Agatha Raisin is on the case in the Cotswolds when a wealthy spinster is strung up from a twisted tree. She hunts for clues while also trying - again - to sort out her personal life. My review of M.C. Beaton's The Witches' Tree is here.

Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney survive the chaos of One Fine Day and find themselves in love. Check out my review here.

With any luck, we will soon be free from the grip of Covid. That's why this groove from Utah is the Song of the Day for April.

Pennsylvania's State Museum in Harrisburg reopens to the public on April 30. Not to be missed is a show at the planetarium. Check it out and plan a trip here.

Word of the Year

A panel of linguists has decided the word that best reflects 2020 is Covid, which refers to COVID-19, the novel coronavius that caused a worldwide pandemic.

Covid is a shortened form of "coronavirus disease." According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. WHO first learned of this new virus on 31 December 2019, following a report of a cluster of cases of 'viral pneumonia' in Wuhan, People's Republic of China."

"A year ago, the word Covid didn't even exist, and now it has come to define our lives in 2020," said Ben Zimmer, chair of the American Dialect Society's New Words Committee.

Zimmer went on to note that it didn't take long for COVID-19 to be referred to simply as Covid, "which then appeared in phrases like Covid crisis, Covid relief, and Covid vaccine – and even Covid baking, Covid hair, and covidiot. It has become a stand-in for the entire pandemic and the societal impacts that we'll be experiencing for years to come."

The American Dialect Society was supposed to choose the Word of the Year on January 8, 2021 at its meeting in San Francisco. But, that meeting was cancelled - because Covid. So, instead, the WOTY was chosen December 17, 2020 on Zoom, during a Covid-friendly webinar which more than 300 people attended.

Other nominees for WOTY included 2020; pandemic; social distancing; and doomscrolling, which refers to obsessively scanning social media and websites for bad news.

There were also plenty of Covid-related words in the Pandemic-Related Word of the Year category. You can read about them and others in the complete news release here.