While the phrase “now more than ever” was the one mostly searched and used in 2020, it was the turn of “new normal” amid the Covid-19 pandemic that was used the most in 2021, according to Google.
Google’s ‘Ngrams‘ tool (launched in 2009 by part of the Google Books team) has revealed how words and phrases have fallen and risen in popularity over time.
Ngrams shows how books and other pieces of literature have used certain words or phrases over time, and we can chart their popularity throughout the years.
“One caveat: Ngrams currently tracks data from 1800 to 2019, prior to 2020, Ngrams’ data ranged from 1800 to 2012, but the team added a huge new dataset about two years ago,” said Molly McHugh-Johnson, Contributor, The Keyword (Google Blog).
This isn’t the first time “new normal” appeared in the lexicon, though.
“It began to see small bursts of usage in literature and other writing in the mid-19th century — though if you use Ngrams to see some of the examples of how it showed up, anew normal’ was often in reference to types of academic institutions,” McHugh-Johnson said in a blog post late on Tuesday.
And then, “new normal” just sort of faded away, only to return big amid the pandemic.
“Then of course, I thought of ‘vaccine’, which actually began its Ngrams debut on a high, falling sharply between 1800 and 1813aonly to rise again in the early to mid 1900s, when many scholarly articles were published about things like typhoid, cholera and pertussis vaccinations,” McHugh-Johnson explained.
Lastly, she took a look at “hybrid”, as hybrid workplaces are becoming the norm in the pandemic and Google has also adopted this.
According to Ngrams, it’s been in use since at least the year 1800, which is how far the tool’s data goes back, and has gently, steadily risen since.
What “hybrid” means hasn’t really changed, but it’s the situations we’re applying it to that have — there’s a much wider scope of daily life that falls under this category.
“Hybrid” didn’t change, but how we live has. 2020 felt in many ways like a pause in life, and this year we began finding new, creative ways to adapt, a little of our old methods, mixed with the new,” said McHugh-Johnson.