Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

In today’s episode you will learn what Cambridge English Dictionary named the top English word of 2021.

Lindsay and Michelle also share the two main reasons they think this word won.

Listen in and learn what this word means to the everyday American English speaker.

Plans for the New Year’s Celebration

Michelle and Lindsay start off by sharing how they intend to celebrate the New Year.

Michelle is excited and plans to spend time with her family and watch television together.

She will order food and enjoy the celebration with her loved ones.

Lindsay has plans to go to Germany but is not sure if she will be able to go.

She may not be sure what would happen but she knows she’s happy.

She looks forward to ending 2021 and starting 2022 with positivity.

Cambridge English Dictionary’s #1 Word of 2021

According to the blog from Cambridge Dictionary, Perseverance is the word of the year 2021.

Here is an excerpt from the Cambridge English Dictionary’s blog on why they chose this word:

“We wanted to choose a word that represented your experiences as learners of English, and we are happy to announce that our Word of the Year 2021 is… perseverance!”

Lindsay agrees that it makes sense for “perseverance” to be the word of the year.

With the current health crisis that has brought along several challenges, it is apparent that everyone is doing their best to move forward.

Lindsay asks Michelle how they choose this?

Is this according to usage, or did they just choose a word that encapsulates the year?

Michelle shares another quote from the blog of Cambridge English Dictionary:

“The word perseverance is not usually used by learners of English, but our data showed that our users across the globe looked it up over 243,000 times in 2021. 30,487 of these searches were between February 18 and February 24, after NASA’s Perseverance Rover landed on Mars on February 18. When people read or heard the rover’s name in the news, they came to the Cambridge Dictionary to learn what it meant. This is a great example of how the language we use is influenced by current events.” -Cambridge English Dictionary blog

So this answers Lindsay’s question wherein this decision is based on data.

Michelle continues to explain that there are some events during the year that has made people use it more or search for what it means.

What is Perseverance to You?

For Lindsay, perseverance means not giving up.

It’s about continuing to move forward despite multiple hardships.

You keep trying even if you fail.

She also relates that perseverance is a big part of the narrative in American culture.

Michelle agrees with Lindsay on this.

She also mentions that they’ve talked about this before in episode 1451 of the All Ears English podcast: How To Be Resilient With One Key English Expression.

They talked about perseverance in a traditional way in this episode.

Michelle wants to remind us that not all situations require you to keep going.

There is value in giving up and recalibrating your plans when you hit a dead end.

It is still considered perseverance to know your boundaries and when to stop and give up.

Lindsay adds that when you mention perseverance, she thinks of the everyday person who is just trying to make it work.

This also applies to small business owners who took a beating for the past two years in this pandemic.

Use Perseverance Like A Native English Speaker

You can use the word Perseverance in your daily conversation.

Here are examples from Lindsay and Michelle on how to use it in a sentence:

“Her perseverance was what was able to get her through her job search, even though it was tough.”

Michelle agrees that it is hard to find a job especially now.

Looking for a new job can be a full-time job in itself.

You need to have perseverance in fulfilling all that is needed to land a job.

You have to send out resumes, contact people, sit through interviews and many more.

“We are about to go through a tough financial time, but with perseverance, we will succeed and get past this.”

Lindsay shares her personal experience on this.

She recently purchased her new house.

To get to the right home she wanted, she had to look through 35 houses.

It became tiring and she was beginning to lose hope.

Their agents were optimistic and ensured she’ll eventually find her dream house.

She kept going and eventually it worked out.

Is It Good to Persevere?

Michelle asks Lindsay if it is good to not give up all the time.

Perseverance may be misunderstood because Lindsay says it matters what you are persevering for.

Her example is, if you’re digging for gold, just make sure you’re digging in the right spot.

It is dumb to persevere and keep digging in the wrong place to dig for gold.

Michelle says it can be a very personal experience to persevere.

It can affect your mental health and impact your own life differently.

You should take a step back and consider how you feel and the entirety of the situation.

As mentioned earlier, there is no shame in stopping and making adjustments.

But if after you’ve assessed and decided that you must rough it out and keep going, then do that.

Both are acts of perseverance.

Remember that it is good to persevere as long as you know that you are on the right track to your end goal.


You may be hitting a wall with learning English.

You might be plateauing where you are hitting a level and you’re not growing.

Keep persevering.

You should always push yourself and not be trapped in your own head too much.

Step out of your comfort zone.

Just like what the All Ears English team keeps saying, we strive for Connection NOT Perfection.

Find the joy in what you’re doing and you’ll eventually reap the fruits of your hard work.

Keep going, you’re doing a great job!

What does perseverance mean to you?

How have you persevered in 2021?

We’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.

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