Talking Coronavirus

Before reading this post, I want to point out that this only reflects my own personal opinion on the vocabulary we are using at the moment. I completely accept that some people might feel differently.


In recent months, we have seen vocabulary items which were not commonly used in the English language becoming a complete part of our lexis. Not a day goes by when we do not utter or read words or phrases such as ‘lockdown’, self-isolation’ or ‘social distancing’. As I've been using these words myself, I started thinking about their meaning as well as the associations and connotations they might carry for me. It is often forgotten that meaning goes beyond the definition and more often than not the importance of a word will be based on what it makes us feel or what we associate it with. I have selected five words and phrases to discuss here.


Covid-19 has become a noun used worldwide. It stands for Coronavirus disease 2019. In the global current crisis, new ways of using existing words and phrases are settling in our everyday language. These words and phrases have been around for a long time, however, they were not commonly used except in some very specific contexts, well until now. To me all these words sound very war-like and at times it feels like we are starring in our own science-fiction movie, expecting Will Smith to jump out of somewhere to fight this invisible enemy!


Jokes aside, Covid-19 sounds like a code word a soldier would say to talk about a secret mission his troop has been assigned to. I can see why there was a need for the abbreviation considering that the virus is all that is being talked about and maybe it was a deliberate intention to have it sound so army-like, so that people would understand the urgency and importance of it.


Another word that slowly crept up in our speech is self-isolation or self-isolating. This is not a new word. According to Social change and linguistic change: the language of Covid-19 published on https://public.oed.com/blog/the-language-of-covid-19/ website, the term started being recorded from 1834, but it would refer to countries deciding to detach themselves from the rest of the world based on political and economic reasons. Today, in this current crisis, it means that an individual or groups of people decide to stay at home and cut themselves from the rest of society in order to prevent catching or giving a highly contagious virus.


The next word I will mention here is lockdown. This apocalyptic term refers to countries shutting down in a bid not to overwhelm health systems in said countries. The current lockdown limits movements and is becoming a social responsibility everyone has to observe. The term lockdown is defined as: ‘a