New words from the coronavirus experience
It’s interesting how every disaster the world has ever known brings its own additions to the vocabulary of people in that time and age.
The coronavirus outbreak has not only given us a healthy fear of unknown micro-organisms, but also introduced the lay person to a bouquet of scientific words and phrases and colourful slang terms.
Some are widely known, but not commonly used. Others were restricted to the use of men and women in science, mainly medicine and epidemiology, but are now discussed around the dinner table or on calls to one’s parents as routinely as if one were talking about the weather.
Words and phrases that have jumped off medical lexicons onto the common man’s plate:
- Pandemic: Meaning a disease that has now spread across an entire country, continent, and in this case, the whole world.
- Epidemic: An outbreak of disease that spreads quickly and affects many people at the same time.
- Outbreak: Refers to a sudden rise in the incidence of a disease.
- Quarantine: Refers to strict isolation to prevent the spread of disease.
- Isolation: Staying away from company, like an island, for any reason. In a medical context, isolation means complete separation from others when one is suffering from a contagious or infectious disease.
- Self-isolation: Voluntary isolation.
- Social distancing: If there is spread of an air-borne infectious disease, can social distancing be far off? In a public health context, the social distancing refers to measures taken to decrease contact between large groups of people.
- Community spread: The spread of a contagious disease within a community in a particular geographic location.
- Contact tracing: Means the practice of tracing all the people who have come into direct contact with a person infected with a disease.
- Coronavirus: Six months ago, 75% of the world’s population would have mistaken the distinctive shape of the coronavirus with that of an alien with a low IQ. Now, anybody who knows Trump knows a coronavirus.
- Flatten the curve: Meaning slowing the spread of an epidemic.
- Herd immunity: Immunity or resistance to a particular infection gained by a group of people when a high percentage of people in the area have been exposed to the infection or have been vaccinated against it.
- Patient zero: The person who has been identified as the first to be infected with a communicable disease during an outbreak, epidemic or pandemic.
- Zoonotic disease: Refers to a disease that can spread from animals to humans.
Informal additions to our vocabulary
- Rona: First came the corona, an informal shortening of ‘coronavirus’. This was later truncated to ‘rona’, usually used to indicate irony or humour during COVID-19 times.
If rona is here, can Aunt Rona and Miss Rona be far behind? They are personifications of the virus. And, why not!
- Iso: Short for isolation.
- Doom-scrolling: Refers to the compulsion to keep scrolling through our news and social media feeds for updates on the corona virus spread or fatalities.
- Doomsurfing: Slang for the driving need to search the internet for saddening, disheartening or depressing news, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.
- Coronapocalypse: Corona + Apocalypse
- Coronageddon: Corona + Armageddon
- Covidiot: COVID-19 + Idiot. In other words, somebody who disregards health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Moronavirus: Coronavirus + Moron; in case there’s more than one covidiot out there.
- Zoom-bombing: Created in reference to anarchic elements who gatecrashed Zoom (popular video-conferencing technology) meetings with pornographic and other offensive images and words. Similar to photobombing, but infinitely more annoying and dangerous.
- Zumping: Another video conferencing-related slang term, referring to the increasing practice of dumping one’s partner over Zoom.
- Covidivorce: COVID-19 + Divorce, of course!
- Coronials: Coronavirus + Millenials; an entire generation of children expected to be conceived during the COVID-19 quarantine period. A happier turn of events than zumping or covidivorce.
- Coronababies: Slightly less imaginative term for coronials.
- Quaranteens: What coronials are likely to grow into in their teens; a play on quarantine and teenagers.
- Coronaspeck: Meaning weight gained because of isolating (with food) during the pandemic. The term is a take on the German kummerspeck, meaning weight gained as a result of emotional eating.
- Coronarita: Coronavirus + Margarita; an absorbing answer to what one may be indulging in during the lockdown.
- Quarantini: Coronovirus + Martini; if the coronarita is not your cup of tea.