TORONTO — Canada’s dictionary companies, declared an essential service at the start of this pandemic, have been scrambling to find enough synonyms for “flatten.”

While the federal government were at first using the nation’s emergency synonym stockpile, they were forced to dip into the reserves and, without warning, began using large quantities of “plank.”

This, of course, sent the global synonym market into chaos with countries around the world out-bidding each other for phrases like “level-out,” “smooth,” and even “trample.” Just this past weekend, prices for “crush” and “steamroller” were at record highs, causing many to suspect gouging was happening.

“The urgency of the synonym crisis because starkly clear this morning,” reported dictionary official Arnold Szatíra, “when we noticed provinces ordering substandard synonyms in large quantities.” Indeed, exclusive reporting from The Nanaimo Beacon indicates the use of “unbuild” in some regions, which clearly is a terrible and potentially unsafe replacement for “flatten.”

The Canadian Librarians Association is also concerned. “Our members are trying their best to help the dictionaries maintain current synonym levels,” it said in a statement. “It is possible that if trends continue, the market will be forced to rely on sports metaphors. And nobody wants to see that.”

The desperate nature of the crisis was seen most starkly last week, when even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was not able to source a synonym in time for his speech, leading to his office’s desperate selection of “moistly.”

“It’s all that was available,” explained an official in the Prime Minister’s Office. “It’s nuts out there.”

The situation was made even worse when U.S. President Donald Jessica Trump restricted American dictionary companies from exporting synonyms to Canada, claiming they needed them for domestic use. However, Trump backed off when Prime Minister Trudeau reminded him that Canada is the world’s largest vowel producer, and restricting synonyms would hurt the American situation more.