Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2021

2021 Word of the Year2021 is almost at an end, and here at Cambridge Dictionary we have been looking back on the past year and what it has meant for you. We wanted to choose a word that represented your experiences as learners of English, and we are happy to announce that our Word of the Year 2021 is… perseverance!

Perseverance is defined as ‘continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time’. It is related to the verb persevere. We often talk about showing perseverance in the face of adversity (= despite a difficult or unlucky situation or event). In 2021, people all over the world have had to show perseverance in the face of challenges and disruption to our lives from COVID-19 and other problems.

Perseverance is almost always a positive word that expresses our admiration for people who keep going in difficult situations. The readers of this blog have definitely shown perseverance in improving their knowledge of English by regularly reading, sharing and responding to posts. You might find it encouraging to learn that we usually use perseverance to talk about an effort that is eventually successful. We certainly hope that your perseverance has paid off (= been successful) this year!

We know that the reason why so many of you keep coming back to the Cambridge Dictionary is because our definitions are written especially for learners of English and are based on expert research into how English is really used. These strengths were very important to us in choosing the 2021 Word of the Year.

The word perseverance is not usually used by learners of English, but our data showed that our users across the globe looked it up over 243,000 times in 2021. 30,487 of these searches were between February 18 and February 24, after NASA’s Perseverance Rover landed on Mars on February 18. When people read or heard the rover’s name in the news, they came to the Cambridge Dictionary to learn what it meant. This is a great example of how the language we use is influenced by current events.

Did you know that the Cambridge Dictionary doesn’t just give you the definitions of words like perseverance, and examples of how these words can be used in a sentence, but lots of extra information as well? If you want to learn about synonyms of perseverance, you can look it up in our Cambridge Thesaurus article, which explains the differences in meaning between perseverance, determination, persistence, doggedness, single-mindedness, tenacity, resolve, will, and the US term stick-to-it-iveness. We also have a Cambridge Thesaurus article full of words that you can use to describe a person who shows perseverance, including persevering, determined and dogged. If you log in to Cambridge Dictionary +Plus (it’s free to use!) you can also test your knowledge of words to do with perseverance with our new word list.

Find out more about our Word of the Year 2021, or read about previous Words of the Year on the About Words blog.

How have you shown perseverance this year? What do you think about our Word of the Year? Share your thoughts in the comments!

13 thoughts on “Cambridge Dictionary’s Word of the Year 2021

  1. Marcel Beleyn

    What an excellent choice! And might I suggest a runner-up: gratitude. I think your readers feel very grateful for all the wonderful tools the Cambridge Dictionary team provides.

    1. Ganesh Rajamani

      Brilliant choice! Apt for 2021; with four times ‘e’ in it, the word has made people resilient and accept the ‘e-mode’ of doing their works of specialization over-ruling the pandemic restrictions in 2020!!

    2. Arpan Chattopadhyay

      Perseverance in inter woven with secretion of hormone in our body. Patience may be a similar word to that. Meditation truly comes when we talk about perseverance. God’s grace is also a matter of fact. How much we persevere varies from man to man.

  2. What YOU “We know that the reason why so many of you keep coming back to the Cambridge Dictionary is because our definitions are written especially for learners of English and are based on expert research into how English is really used.” is true!

  3. Lisandra

    First of all. Thank you so much, you just made my day with this word. It’s a wonderful word and you have made me see how much I’ve been working on achieving my objectives this year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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