On Friday morning, the Pan South African Language Board (PanSALB), revealed the South African Word of the Year live on eNCA’s morning programme…

While the country has been focussed on the coronavirus pandemic for much of the year, it’s no surprise that the three words shortlisted were Covid-19, Jerusalema, and Lockdown.

The word that finally won out was:

SA Word of the Year


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“The SA Word of the Year is a word, term or expression preferred to reflect the passing year in language,” said a statement from PanSALB.

“To qualify for consideration, there must be evidence that the usage of the word or expression has increased significantly in the past 12 months across a broad range of media. The shortlisted words, according to PanSALB, captured the ethos, mood or preoccupations of 2020.”


Other words/terms that were considered include:

  • Corruption
  • Normalise
  • Self-Isolation

International Dictionary Day is celebrated on October 16 in remembrance of the first American lexicographer, Noah Webster who is considered to be the father of the American dictionary.

PanSALB, through its National Lexicography Units, develops dictionaries in all official languages for the sustainable development of our languages and the realisation of effective multilingualism in South Africa.