If we’re fortunate this year, it’s going to be all about “protection,” and the sum we can expect from different vaccinations against different Covid-19 strains. Is it going to require some form of universal shielding of individuals who are then allowed to go about their daily business? The word derives from the Latin protegere, meaning “to cover in front,” like a protective wall or military shield, and has since been adapted to describe other obstacles that users hope would be reliable, such as sunscreen or contraceptives. “As in the Mafia concept of “security money” or extortion, it has also been adopted as a threatening euphemism, although it would undoubtedly be too cynical to call the high prices charged for “protection money” for some of the coronavirus vaccines. “In the past, “protection” may also mean diplomatic rather than pharmacological immunity – relief from detention or other inconvenience at the order of a Maybe in the post-Brexit era, as medieval envoys once did, all Britons who wish to fly abroad would have to bring a ‘note of security’ or a certificate of vaccination. No doubt this could be written in Poland, like our new blue passports – Steven Poole’s A Word for Every Day of the Year is released by Quercus.