‘Baby elephant’: Austria announces 2020’s word of the year

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‘Baby elephant’: Austria announces 2020’s word of the year
A baby elephant which is approximately one metre long. Photo: JOSÉ CASTAÑARES / AFP

Baby elephant has been named Austria’s 2020 word of the year, beating out ‘corona’.


A jury of experts from the Society of Austrian German (GSÖD) have chosen their word of the year for 2020 - and surprisingly, it is not ‘corona’, ‘Covid’ or ‘coronavirus’. 

‘Baby elephant’ - or Babyelefant as it is commonly written in German - has been named the word of the year, beating corona into second place. 

READ: Austria Post produces ‘three-ply toilet paper stamps' to promote social distancing 

The word received 3720 of the 7742 votes - just under 50 percent. 

‘Baby elephant’ became a symbol in the fight against the virus in 2020. 

During the first wave of the pandemic, Austria sought to encourage participation with the social distancing requirement by telling people to stay ‘a baby elephant apart’, i.e. one metre. 


People are now legally required to stay a baby elephant’s distance apart from each other in public, provided of course that elephant is one-metre long. 

The baby elephant’s popularity became so pronounced that Austria Post in October brought out a special edition coronavirus postage stamp, which features the country’s famous ‘baby elephant’ and is made from three-ply toilet paper.

Corona in second, ‘Verblümeln’ in third

Predictably, ‘corona’ secured second place in the vote. 

In third was Verblümeln, in an apparent win for Austrian language nerds everywhere. 

While it is hard to explain, Verblümeln, relates to the Austrian Minister of Finance Gernot Blümel. 

According to the jurors the word is “an ironic play on words with the name of the current Minister of Finance which means to ‘whitewash’, ‘idealise’, ‘play dumb’ and also ‘to calculate the budget’. 

‘Corona party’ the least favourite 

The least favourite word of the year was ‘corona party’, followed by ‘social distancing’. 

The young people’s word of the year was ‘Boomer’, which reflects the generational conflict between millennials and baby boomers, according to the panel. 

Neighbouring Germany was a little less creative in choosing its word of the year, with 'coronavirus pandemic' taking top spot


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