Vocabulary of 2020

Finally, we are about to close the year of 2020. There is no doubt that this is the year that most of us will remember for a lifetime. As we all hope this pandemic will be over soon, those vocabulary may be still around for at least a little while. Let’s sum up the most-mentioned vocabulary of 2020 in Chinese.

二〇二〇年 èr líng èr líng nián, Year of 2020


We ALL had a year that we can talk about for the rest of our lives! 


Èr líng èr líng nián fāshēngle hěnduō shì.

Many things happened in the year of 2020.

病毒 bìngdú, Virus


Covid or coronavirus is definitely the number 1 topic people talk about this year. In Chinese, the official name is “新型冠状病毒 Xīnxíng guānzhuàng bìngdú,” or it can be shorten as “新冠病毒.” The literal translation is “new crown shape virus.”

体温 tǐwēn, Body Temperature

Body temp

Taking body temperature has become part of the “new normal” late this year. “量体温 liáng tǐwēn” means taking body temperature.

居家命令 jūjiā mìnglìng, Stay-at-home order

Stay at home order

Many countries and cities have announced this order this year. 

戴口罩 dài kǒuzhào, Wear mask

wear mask

This is definitely also the top topic we all talked about. It is interesting to see how we all panicked in the beginning of the pandemic about wearing masks in public as well as the shortage in supply, now things have really shifted and we can see all kinds of patterns on our masks and other types of face coverings.  

洗手 xǐshǒu, Wash hands

wash hands

Washing hands has become one of the important practices this year. I would like to share an interesting news story I read, a prediction in Taiwan said that the cases of children getting stomach flu this year are much lower than before. They believe that it is because children wash their hands much more often than before this year. This simple action not only protected them from getting Covid, but also from other illnesses!

社交距离 shèjiāo jùlí, Social distance

social distance

A new word that you can see everywhere this year, in the news, in the store entrance, and many other public places. 

“Keep social distancing” in Chinese is “保持社交距离 bǎochí shèjiāo jùlí.”

干洗手液 gān xǐ shǒu yè, Hand sanitizer

hand sanitizer

The literal meaning of “干洗手液 gān xǐ shǒu yè” is “dry wash hands liquid!” I find it to be a pretty neat name!

Same as “口罩 kǒuzhào, mask,” it was short in supply for a little while when the pandemic started worldwide. It is easy to carry around and use if you can not access water and soap.

网课 wǎng kè, Virtual/Online class

online class

The literal meaning of “网课wǎng kè” is “internet class.”

This probably happened to most of us at some point of this year no matter where you live. 

“Taking virtual class” in Mandarin Chinese is “上网课 shàng wǎng kè.”

Zoom 会议 Zoom huìyì, Zoom meetings


Zoom, Google meet, those are terms we rarely hear before but now used on a daily basis. We use Zoom for online classes, work meetings, church services, family game nights, and you name it! All the in person gathering, if can be switched to virtual, are happening over Zoom!

在家工作 zàijiā gōngzuò, Work from home

work from home

Office workplace is another place where people get together indoors. To reduce the virus spread in the workplace, “在家工作 zàijiā gōngzuò” or “远距工作 yuǎn jù gōngzuò” meaning remote work has become a new working style for many people.

网路购物 wǎng lù gòuwù, Online shopping

online shopping

Since the government encourages everyone to stay-home and keep social distance, “网路购物 wǎng lù gòuwù” sales are many times more than ever!! While throudred of stores and restaurants struggle because of the pandemic, stores that offer “网路购物 wǎng lù gòuwù” keep their business going.

curbside pickup

This is a pretty new thing getting to be known by much more people this year. The literal meaning of “路边提货 lù biān tíhuò” is “road side pick up.”

睡衣 shuìyī, Pajamas


“睡衣 shuìyī” literally means “sleeping clothes!” Another interesting fact is that sales of “睡衣 shuìyī” has grown, too. Since people reduce their social time, wearing “睡衣 shuìyī” all day long is possible!

卫生纸 wèishēngzhǐ, Toilet paper

toilet paper

For some reason, in addition to other hygiene produces, many people panicked about the shortage of “卫生纸 wèishēngzhǐ!” Many wholesaler and retail stores have to limit the quantity of “卫生纸 wèishēngzhǐ.” being purchased by an individual or family.

取消 qǔxiāo, Cancel


Events and trips got canceled this year. So I guess it is worth mentioning this word, 取消 qǔxiāo.

Here are a couple of examples:

I love watching NBA games, but many games got canceled.

My flight got canceled again! This is the third time!!

Vocabulary of 2020 Infographic - Simplified Chinese Version

Vocabulary of 2020

Vocabulary of 2020 Infographic - Traditional Chinese Version

Vocabulary of 2020 - TV

Hope we won’t be stuck with those vocabulary for too long! Any other words you often use this year? Share with us!


    1. Karen

      既然疫情看起來還要至少一陣子,那就趁這個機會讓學生們學學這些常見的生詞吧~ 🙂

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