It's been quite a year and already the papers and magazines are filling their pages with retrospective features, highlighting the key events of the past twelve months. So much of what we've experienced this year is unprecedented and here's another first.

The Oxford English Dictionary will not be declaring a word of the year. Instead, 2020 has been described as "a year which cannot be neatly accommodated in one single word".

The rival dictionary, Collins, opted for 'lockdown' as its word of the year. And there were many other contenders - 'unmute', 'bubbles', 'key workers', 'staycation', 'face masks', 'circuit breaker', 'coronavirus', of course, and 'pandemic'.

The extent to which scientific terms have been adopted in ordinary conversation has been notable this year, the OED team has said. We have all become armchair epidemiologists as we have debated 'bringing the R below 1', 'flattening the curve' and 'community transmission'. And 'following the science' has increased in usage by more than 1,000 per cent compared with 2019.

"I've never witnessed a year in language like the one we've just had," said the president of Oxford Dictionaries, Casper Grathwohl. "It's both unprecedented and a little ironic - in a year that has left us speechless, 2020 has been filled with new words unlike any other."