Every prolonged crisis creates its own vocabulary. A special set of new words that linger. World War II (which lasted five years longer than the current crisis, so quit yer griping) is 75 years in the past. But many can reel off the terms it gave us: atom bomb, bazooka, commando, D-Day. And that’s just A-B-C-D.
So what are the words our grandchildren will use regarding the current calamity? No doubt it will be covered in their “C29: Early 21st Century America, Decline and Disaster” class. A primer:
Coronavirus (kə-ˈrō-nə-ˌvī-rəs) n. Single-strand RNA virus studded with knobby projections (corona is Latin for crown). There are many coronaviruses — MERS, SARS, etc. — so the one causing trouble now was at first called the “new” or “novel” coronavirus, prefixes now typically dropped as superfluous. Usage: “More than a month since he declared the coronavirus pandemic a national emergency, President Donald Trump has repeatedly lied about this once-in-a-generation crisis.” — The Atlantic
COVID-19 (koh-vid naine-TEEN) n. Abbr. of “Coronavirus disease 2019,” the illness caused by a strain of coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Some news outlets, such as the New York Times, use lowercase (“Covid-19”), but that looks like the name of a South Korean boy band. Usage: “Rupert Murdoch, Fox News’ Covid-19 misinformation is a danger to public health.” — The Guardian
Covidiot (koh-vid-ee-et) n. The Urban Dictionary defines this as “someone who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety.” Also used to describe someone hoarding goods, selfishly denying them to others. Usage: “Q: What do you call an armed member of a radical group of lockdown protestors? A: A Branch Covidiot.” — George Takei
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