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How the Coronavirus Pandemic Gave Rise to “New” Words

L. Sarhan has a B.A. in English and creative writing. She is currently working on an M.A. in English and creative writing.

The year 2020 has brought us many unexpected events that have transformed our society. More specifically, the Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to a multitude of popular invented vocabulary words as a type of coping mechanism to help people deal with the sudden changes to their daily lives. While invented vocabulary, such as slang words popularized during certain decades or events are nothing new, the new words of the pandemic, or coronacoinages, are more specific to the pandemic of 2019-2021 than words that will be adopted over time outside the coronavirus pandemic.


Anti-ma refers to people who are against wearing a face mask at all. They usually come up with every reason in the book as to why it violates some liberty, freedom, or Constitutional right. However, according to various laws, including but not limited to the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, local, state, and the federal government can make laws that ensure the health and safety of the public. Anti-mas usually only care for their own version of what it means to have liberty, freedom, and “American” rights without a thought of the infringement of the freedoms, liberties, and rights of others outside themselves.

Coronapocolypse & Coronageddon

By March 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic, meaning that the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 had and would continue to spread around the world at a rapid rate. With little knowledge about the virus and still much to learn, the rhetoric presented by reporting agencies sent the public into a panic as they overstocked up on personal supplies creating a shortage of essentials supplies for many of the population. With wild assumptions presented more so as fact, the term coronapocolypse and coronageddon were coined. For many, that is what the world resembled – a type of apocalypse or armageddon caused by a novel coronavirus. These two terms combine the words “coronavirus” with “apocalypse” or “armageddon”.


Generally speaking, life has always had its ups and downs. However, with the onslaught of changes due to the global spread of Covid-19, the ups and downs of a pandemic have led to a new word in the English language – coronacoaster. A coronacoaster refers to the ups and downs of life during the pandemic. Many people experienced more lows than high due to concerns about health and safety to loss of income due to mandatory shutdowns, yet there were some that enjoyed life at home with family or a relaxed remote work setting. However, even the lucky few that got to enjoy the stay-at-home orders as an in-home vacation, quickly learned that even staying at home can have its own array of ups and downs. Many folks complained about not being able to socialize outside their home. While many social media users often joked about the rise in alcohol consumption due to the pandemic, the CDC reports in late June 2020 that 40 percent of adults reported developing and struggling with mental health and substance abuse since the pandemic started.


The threat of contracting Covid-19 has changed the mindset of many people. What would normally be a clearing of the throat cough or sneezing due to a variety of mundane reasons has left people a bit jumpy when they hear someone coughing or sneezing in public. In fact, when some people hear a coronate – a person who coughs or sneezes repeatedly in public – they often ask, “Hey, you got the corona/rona?”


This is not a new word in the English language; however, the Covid-19 pandemic has given rise to another added meaning. Originally, the word “coronator” refers to the person crowning someone at a coronation. It also has a meaning in English law in reference to a writ of removal of a coroner. A coronator is also now someone who has contracted Covid-19 and was fortunate to have recovered from it.


Despite the initial rise in birth control contraception uses, including emergency “day after” birth control pills, it was predicted that there would be a rise in pandemic babies conceived as mandatory lockdowns and quarantines were issued by state and local officials. As the access to “non-emergency” and “nonessential” health care seemed to shut down to handle the overflow of Covid-19 patients and limit the spread of the virus, many women were cut off from having access to birth control options. Pair this with being in a mandatory lockdown, and unintended pregnancy began to surge, so did a new term. A coronial refers to babies born during the Covid-19 pandemic. Whether this term stays as an official name for the generation born during the pandemic or just as a slang term is too early to tell.


When companies began sending people home due to coronavirus shutdowns issued by local and state governments, some people were stable enough financially to consider this an opportunity to go on vacation. Thus, the term coronavacation was coined to refer to the vacation covidiots took during a global pandemic despite the advice of health professionals discouraging it during a global pandemic.


For many teenagers, having a social life is at the core of their existence and culture. Many teens took to social media, such as TikTok, to express humor as a way to cope with the pandemic. However, some teens – like adults – have had difficulty coping with what feels like being cut off from their friends and the world, despite technology that allows social media and video chatting to keep them connected. These teens are often referred to as cornteens.


A covidian is someone who does their research and adheres to health and safety guidelines when it comes to the Covid-19 pandemic. Oftentimes, they will have extra face masks, hand sanitizer, and other safety protocols if they must venture out into public. They are also not afraid to call out anyone who is not following said protocols such as not wearing a face mask properly, not observing social distancing rules, ignoring the direction the aisle arrows are pointing, or any other behaviors that promote the spread of the novel coronavirus.


With all of the misinformation and contractions tossed around by health officials and the media, it is easy to formulate opinions over basic science and believe that opinions have now become “facts.” It has also given rise – or at least brought to our attention – how narcissistic our society has become on a macro level. Covidiots are those who do not take the Covid-19 pandemic seriously and often disregard the safety of others as they act as though nothing has changed. This includes behaviors that ignore social distancing but could also include selfish behaviors such as clearing out grocery store shelves without a thought to anyone else who may need food and essentials.

Doomscrolling and Doomsurfing

Lockdown. Quarantine. Upsurge. These are just a few terms that run through the minds of many people globally. People are looking for answers and brainstorming ways to help keep themselves and their family safe during a pandemic filled with lacking information or misinformation. Of course, with the lockdown and quarantine orders in place, more people have more time to go online to look for the answers they seek. Doomscrolling or doomsurfing is when people intentionally go looking for information and updates on the Covid-19 pandemic. Doomscrollers or doomsurfers expect bad news and find it somewhere across the media channels, often overlooking the positive coverage of people who have recovered and how communities have come together to support each other. Of course, doomscrolling isn’t any new. It doesn’t take a pandemic for people to get into the habit of looking for negative news regarding any topic.


A maskhole is another example of an invented vocabulary word that blends two words into one. In this case, mask + (well, I am sure you know). A maskhole is a covidiot who does not believe in wearing a facemask to protect themselves or others. Some maskholes will come up with every excuse in the book in an attempt to justify their ignorance and contempt for public safety in stopping the spread of a coronavirus that can be deadly for so many people. This also applies to people who fail to wear a face mask properly or wear a face mask that does not offer any protection at all.

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Maskne is mask acne, or acne breakouts resulting from wearing a face mask. Face masks are important to help reduce exposure to the novel coronavirus, but for some people, maskne has become a real problem. Here are some ways you can help prevent or reduce potential maskne breakouts according to the American Academy of Dermatology:

  • Wash and moisturize your skin daily.
  • Use petroleum jelly to protect your lips.
  • Wear a mask correctly and that fits right.
  • When possible take a 15-minute mask break every four hours outdoors or in your car while maintaining social distancing guidelines.


Moronavirus is when covidiots and maskholes test positive for the coronavirus plaguing the world. It is because of their lackadaisical attitude for the safety of themselves and others that caused their exposure to the virus and contracting it. Many either whine about being quarantined or ignore the quarantine and venture out in public still spreading it to others. Some, however, change their mindset about Covid-19, facemasks, and other public safety habits.


The coronavirus family has been around for a while now, yet the novel coronavirus that can cause Covid-19 has given birth to an array of shortening and blended words. The rona is just a short way to say coronavirus in reference to the coronavirus pandemic that causes Covid-19. It started in humor and has expanded to being used even outside comedic jokes and coping mechanisms.


A quaranteam refers to a household unit of people. This could be family leaving together in one place or even a group of roommates who are unrelated. Quranteam can also refer to specific friends and family that are allowed to come in a home after they have been vetted to adhere to specific health and safety guidelines of social interaction, especially when out in public such as during supply runs to the store or do not usually leave the house.


Quarantini is a buzzword made popular when toilet paper wasn’t the only thing being stockpiled. The term refers to any cocktail or alcoholic beverage made and consumed during a lockdown or quarantine. It gained in popularity as people made videos and posts across social media, especially TikTok, of their version of a quarantini or how they found new ways to hide their day drinking – although, some made no effort to hide their day drinking at all.


You are probably familiar with the photobombing phenomenon. However, journalists have said for years, there is no way to predict what could possibly happen or go wrong when you go LIVE. As more people are working remotely from home and having to get accustomed to video conferencing, there are bound to be interruptions at some point. You have seen the funny videos of children, spouses, and pets sneaking in view of the camera shot whether intentionally or unintentionally. When this happens, it is called Zoombombing. The phrase originates from the popular use of Zoom as a video conferencing platform but the word Zoombombing has also been used when this happens on other video conferencing platforms.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Linda Sarhan


Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on November 24, 2020:

Sarhan, although the read is interesting and entertaining, it reveal the weakness of the USA in helping to spread the virus. Thanks for sharing.

Millicent on November 24, 2020:

Great work. At least i now now how to use some terms in the reminder of this pandemic. I will coronate

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on November 24, 2020:

Interesting compilation.

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