The coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of most of us on planet Earth, including (according to Dictionary.com) the expansion of vocabularies. 

It feels like years (not months) ago that we learned our first COVID-19 terms, like social distancing and flatten the curve. We had to process so much, in so little time; we had to become experts about important differences: epidemic vs. pandemic,

quarantine vs. isolation and respirator vs. ventilators. The conversation continues with contagious vs. infectious and what antibodies do. The new words and concepts keep coming.

Here are some of the new slang terms born of this unique, unprecedented time in modern life—a time of upheaval that some more jokingly call: the coronapocalypse (corona apocalypse) or coronageddon (corona armageddon).

  • Rona (often in the phrase the rona) — is an informal shortening of coronavirus. Coronavirus is popularly shortened to corona, which was apparently further clipped to rona.
  • Cornteen is an intentional misspelling of quarantine, often used in ironic commentary on what it’s like to be at home during the coronavirus pandemic. It may have originated as an actual misspelling of quarantine.
  • Doom-scrolling: Life under the rona has meant that it’s even harder to peel our eyes away from our phones and computers, constantly refreshing our feeds for the latest news about the pandemic.  At least there’s a word for that: doom-scrolling, also doomscrolling. The term has been notably used—and popularized in part by her exhortations to a take a break from doing it—by Quartz reporter Karen K. Ho.
  • Covidiot: A blend of COVID-19 and idiotcovidiot is a slang insult for someone who disregards healthy and safety guidelines about the novel coronavirus. Some signs of covidiocy are: not washing your hands regularly, hanging out in groups of people, standing within six feet of a stranger at the grocery, hoarding items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer all to yourself.
  • Quaranteam: The (very limited) group of people you see during self-isolation; one of the many slang terms that plays on quarantine. Whether you call it a germ pod, a COVID bubble, or your quaranteam, this is the group of people you voluntarily choose to socialise with or even live with during the quarantine. Basically, your pod chooses to isolate together, promising not to have close contact (within six feet) with anyone outside the pod. This form of contact clustering (yet another term used by epidemiologists to describe the situation – see here) allows you to socialise while also staying safe. 
  • Quaranteam is a blend of quarantine and team, and sounds like quarantine—it’s a punning blend.
  • Moronavirus:  Another term for a covidiot. The wordplay, here, centres on the word moron. Calling someone a covidiot or moronavirus is a form of quarantine shaming.
  • Quarantini is a slang term for a cocktail (a blend of quarantine and martini) that people drink at home while under quarantine during—and because of—the coronavirus.

There’s much more at Dictionary.com – click here.

Martin Pollins
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