Describe 2020 In Just One Word? We Asked, You Answered.

Well, what a year it has been. From a global pandemic, protests and riots in parts of the United States, national and local elections, online learning and remote work, describing 2020 in just a word or two seems like a daunting task.

With terms such as quarantine, social distancing, and Zoom parties, it seems like our everyday lexicon will forever be changed by the words and phrases that have permeated our conversations this year.

But which words really describe this past year? We asked our fans to put their wordsmithing to the test. Here are the words they chose to best sum up 2020! 


@S_twt said that unprecedented is one way to describe this wacky year. 

There’s no question the word unprecedented has been in heavy rotation—it’s been used so much our own social media audience even told us it’s one word they never, ever want to hear again. But life-altering and catastrophic events—from the pandemic to the wildfires in California—have never been seen before, or at least not to this level. 

Not sure unprecedented works? Try a few of its synonyms out: bizarre, uncommon, or unrivaled.


@Thesuperflynerd suggested entanglement as the word that best sums up 2020. This word saw sudden popularity in late June 2020 when actress Jada Pinkett Smith used the term to describe her relationship with R&B singer August Alsina while still being married to Will Smith. 

Write smarter with our thesaurus-powered Grammar Coach™! Get spelling help, synonyms suggestions, grammar check and more! Sign up now!

First recorded in the 1630s, it means “something that entangles, snares, and involves complications.” Perhaps Facebook needs to add this as an option for relationship status; it’s the new “complicated.” 

Want a word that means something similar? Synonyms for entanglement include: imbroglio, liaison, and cobweb.


This slang word is a combination of hell and -acious, and it came to us from @Le_Crenn on Twitter. 

Hellacious can mean “astonishing,” which sounds pretty positive. Then again, it can also mean “difficult.” Sounds appropriate for 2020, doesn’t it? 

Synonyms for hellacious (both good and bad) include: egregious, awesome, and out of this world.


Are these really the end of days? Well, according to The Rapid Fire on Instagram, yes. 

From a crashing stock market to wildfires burning up the west coast of America, it might seem apocalyptic

Early in March, as most of America shut down to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the streets of New York City became reminiscent of a ghost town. Stores were shut, subways were empty, and toilet paper was nowhere to be found. If that doesn’t illustrate an apocalypse, we’re not sure what does.

Does apocalyptic sound a little extreme? If so, you could try these synonyms:  ominous, prophetic, or oracularor learn about hyperbole below (and how the use of this word might be considered hyperbolic).

WATCH: What Are Examples Of Hyperbole?


We love the British slang word omnishambles so much it was once a Word of the Day! And it certainly earned its fair share of support on social media for describing 2020.

The term means “a situation, especially in politics, in which poor judgment results in disorder or chaos with potentially disastrous consequences.” No synonyms needed for this one!

Previous Other Ways To Say "To Whom It May Concern" Next Is There A Better Word Than "Quit" When Leaving A Commitment?