The Washington Post asked readers to describe 2020 in a single word.  

Here are some of the responses among a heavy flow of 2,000 submissions, including some of the reasonings:

The top three:

Exhausting: All of our challenges have been drawn-out, slow-motion car wrecks. From COVID, to the election, to Trump in general, to police shootings, to unemployment, to no sports, to some sports and no fans, it just keeps dragging on. I feel trapped in a corner and all I can do is try to block the next thing that gets thrown at me.

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

“I am hopeful that we can remember that we are all on the same side in the bigger picture. I am hopeful we will stop using such extreme and hateful rhetoric to describe people we don’t agree with.”  

Lost: “We’ve lost our way as a country. The year was lost for students, families, weddings, holidays, positive human interaction. Lives were lost unnecessarily to disease. It feels like being lost in the wilderness with no compass.”

Chaotic: “Coronavirus, aftermath of general election, inability to acquire simple provisions like toilet paper, racial injustice, Trump and the GOP, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dying and being replaced against her wishes. Families being torn apart. I do not recognize this country anymore.”

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

“Uniting the world would be the greatest of all accomplishments.”

The disorientation we felt:


“The hits just kept on coming. The good, the bad, the ugly. In our family, we shared a birth and a life-altering heart surgery and a decision to move that changed our family forever. There was much soul searching and out of it came monumental changes. The year was relentless, and we had to be the same. We could not allow ourselves to succumb. We had to find creative means of succor. Succor became survival.”

What are you hopeful for in 2021?

“Resolution. To the virus, to our political system, to the era of abject hate. And a sense of optimism — I’m really looking forward to relaxing my shoulders again. I’m hoping the country gets resolute, too and acts to solve some of the most pressing problems.”

We suspect that you have some other single words that would describe the past year as you experienced it.

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