Wheel tread marks are left in the soil of Jezero Crater on Mars, as NASA's Mars rover Perseverance drives on Martian surface for the first time, on March 4, 2021. NASA/JPL-Caltech/Handout via REUTERS
Cambridge Dictionary’s word of the year for 2021 has been revealed as “perseverance”.
The word was inspired by Nasa’s mission to Mars, as data showed that users across the globe searched for the word online more than 243,000 times throughout the year.
The dictionary found there was a surge in searches for the meaning of “perseverance” between 18 and 24 February, after Nasa’s Perseverance Rover landed on Mars.
"Perseverance” is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as a “continued effort to do or achieve something, even when this is difficult or takes a long time”.
The word is “almost always a positive word that expresses our admiration for people who keep going in difficult situations”, wrote the editors.
They added that people had shown the meaning of the word “in the face of challenges and disruption to our lives from Covid-19 and other problems”.
Wendalyn Nichols, Cambridge Dictionary publishing manager, said it “made sense” that searches for the word spiked after the descent of the Mars Rover.
"Cambridge Dictionary is the top website in the world for learners of English, and perseverance is not a common word for students of English to have in their vocabulary," she said.
"We often see spikes in look-ups of words associated with current events when those words are less familiar."
She said editors felt it was an appropriate word for the year, given the challenges of 2021.
"Just as it takes perseverance to land a rover on Mars, it takes perseverance to face the challenges and disruption to our lives from Covid-19, climate disasters, political instability and conflict," said Nichols.
Other words that can be used as synonyms for “perseverance” include “determination”, “persistence”, “doggedness”, “tenacity”, “resolve”, and “will”.
Last year, Cambridge Dictionary named “quarantine” as word of the year, after it became one of the most highly searched for words online.