A Final Attempt To Make Sense of 2020, Through The Year’s Hottest Buzzwords
2020 has been a year of unprecedented change. As the world around us evolves, so, too, must words stretch and sometimes become wholly new, in order to capture the strange and curious things and experiences brought to us by the year.

In the spirit of unbiased intellectual inquiry, RICE explains some of 2020’s most used buzzwords, complete with examples on how to use them in a sentence without appearing like a millennial trying to hop on the TikTok train.

Captain, it seems we have an impostor among us ... captain? Image: Rebecca Lee / Unsplash.

Definition: A high-stakes extreme sport in which thousands of healthy adults volunteer to be trapped in a ship and set adrift on the high seas. The adrenaline-inducing element is provided by a mole planted amongst the participants, whose goal is to sabotage the operation by coughing and sneezing discreetly. 

Inspired by 2020’s cult video game Among Us.

Example: The cruise participants of Loyal Carrotbean’s Question Oddyseys lost the game because they did not discover the mole in time. Their penalty was to stay at home for two weeks.



Definition: A piece of information certified as true by a committee comprising thespians who can cry at command, sheltered-walkway engineers, and unloving-critic individuals. 

Example: The highlight of 2020 was an exciting competition held in July. Then, ordinary Singaporeans who grew up in HDB and are children of taxi drivers and enjoy smiling for photographs at hawker centres fought for the chance to decide what a fact is, a position they can hold for the next four years. 


Minimum wage

Definition: A radical plan, frequently proposed by the rabble-rousing left, to force the law to ensure that people earn enough money to lift themselves out of poverty.

Example: The recent movement to introduce minimum wage in the country is an outrage! If we increase the wages of lower-income groups like hawker centre cleaners, the prices of cai png will increase, and that is not acceptable because how will the lower-income groups afford the increase in food prices?

One of the many interdisciplinary courses you will take at Singapore's premier higher education institute! Image: Marisse Caine / RICE file photos.

Definition: A tertiary education institution that prepares students to be future-ready, by giving them an interdisciplinary education in the humanities, sciences, and dealing with creepy students and professors.

Example: Recent NUS graduate Lydia enthuses, “I feel so much more prepared to cope with the challenges of real life after spending 3 years at NUS. There, I gained a holistic education in checking every bathroom stall when I pee.



Definition: An archaic word that refers to a location where our ancestors used to gather to participate in arcane rituals, such as “ideation” and “team huddles”, that perform no function other than to signal that they are still alive and can be extracted for value.

Example: While exploring the jungles of Raffles Place, archaeologist Lee accidentally unearthed a coffee machine and a mass grave of laptops, leading him to deduce that he was standing on the buried ruins of a late 20th-century office.



Definition: No matches found for ‘racism’. Did you mean ‘racial harmony’?

An artist's reconstruction of what an "office" district looked like in the days of yore. Image: Marisse Caine / RICE file photos.

Definition: A leaven derived from leftover and dead dreams, used to stave off existential horror and loneliness.

Example: “Edgar Allen Dough blew his first bubbles today! I’m so excited. Tomorrow we’ll finally get to play together.”

“Who’s Edgar Allen Dough?”

“My sourdough culture.”



Definition: A technology that allows time-travel to pre-March 2020.

Example: Daddy promised to bring all 7 of us to the ice cream shop if we learn how to use TraceTogether, but little Timmy, the youngest of us all, protested that his civil liberties cannot be bought by ice cream. Weeks later, Timmy died of Covid-19. Now we are 6. 


Travel bubble

Definition: A breathtakingly massive financial-aeronautical scam carried out by multiple international parties, in which persons were persuaded to part with their money despite the clearly sketchy circumstances of the deal. Comparable in scale to the Enron scandal of 2001.

Example: Jean, a victim of the travel bubble, said she lost $1000 to it. Confusingly, she also said that she would continue putting her money in the scheme as she cannot wait to drink “yuan yang” and post it on Instagram. 

Side effects of a Covid-19 vaccine may include living to an old age, and looking dashingly handsome at that. Image: Marisse Caine / RICE file photos.

Definition: A questionable substance, often injected in one’s body against one’s will, that stimulates the production of antibodies that can cause horrific side effects such as a longer lifespan, the better to endure the pointlessness of life.

Example: It is incomprehensible that people would not want to accept the Covid-19 vaccine. Social responsibility has to override individual rights. If I am suffering from the pain of existence, so must everyone else.


Work from home

Definition: Linguists are still divided over the proper definition of the term. Debate is split between two camps: those who think of it as the greatest positive change in society since the invention of universal health care; and others who see it as the intrusion of capitalism into private homes.

Example: “Which side of the work from home debate are you on?”

“I don’t even believe in the idea of ‘work’.”



Definition: A pagan ritual practised daily by its adherents, who believe that it opens up a portal to any experience they desire, such as a fitness class, a theatre show, or a work meeting. Sceptics claim it is nothing but an elaborate sleight of hand and waste of time.

Example: “Want to attend Zoom Pilates together?”

“Sorry, I’m not a believer.”

“My friend in MOM says the circuit breaker will be extended till next year.”

“What’s the Zoom link?”

This is a work of satire. Please consult your local committee of sheltered-walkway engineers, and non-loving-critic individuals, and actors who can cry on command to determine if this is “fact”.

Did we miss out on any buzzword? Misunderstood any? Scold us at community@ricemedia.co.
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