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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Photo: Joanne K. Watson/Merriam-Webster via Getty Images

Merriam-Webster announced Monday that "pandemic" is its word of the year.

The big picture: Peter Sokolowski, editor at large for Merriam-Webster, told AP that after the World Health Organization declared on March 11 the COVID-19 outbreak to be a pandemic, searches for the word on Merriam-Webster.com were 115,806% higher than for the same period in 2019.

For the record: Runners up for word of the year based on lookup surges related to the pandemic were "coronavirus," "quarantine" and "asymptomatic," per AP.

  • Non-virus considerations that saw spikes included "defund," in relation to the "defund the police" campaign, "antebellum" after country group Lady A dropped the word from their name because of its association with pre-Civil War slavery and "mamba," following the January death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant — who was known as the "Black Mamba."

Worth noting: The WHO declared on Feb. 11 "a new name" for the coronavirus: "COVID-19." Merriam-Webster included the word plus information related to it on its site 34 days later.

  • "That's the shortest period of time we’ve ever seen a word go from coinage to entry," Sokolowski told AP.

Flashback: Merriam-Webster's 2019 word of the year: "They"

Editor's note: This article has been updated with details of words that were runners up and on the COVID-19 entry.

Go deeper

Chauvin defense closing: "Does not have to prove his innocence"

Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson opened his closing argument on Monday by reminding the jury that Derek Chauvin "does not have to prove his innocence."

Why it matters: The jury's verdict in Chauvin's murder trial is seen by advocates as one of the most crucial civil rights cases in decades.

Merrick Garland: Domestic terror is "still with us"

Photo: Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In his first major speech, Attorney General Merrick Garland warned the nation Monday to remain vigilant against the rising threat of domestic extremism.

Why it matters: Domestic terrorism poses an "elevated threat" to the nation this year, according to U.S. intelligence. Garland has already pledged to crack down on violence linked to white supremacists and right-wing militia groups.

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