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The COVID Lexicon: 40 Words and Phrases We’ve All Adopted Since the Start of the Pandemic
Twenty20

These days, we are in the habit of looking for silver linings. Thoughts like, “My houseplants have really benefited psychologically from this quarantine…” have been known to cross our minds. So, we’ll offer one more: The observation that we—as a society—have acquired a whole new language, seemingly without much effort, in the past six months. Take that, Rosetta Stone.  

It’s nothing short of amazing to realize that these are all the words we almost never used before January, 2020. Ah, those halcyon days when the novel coronavirus was actually novel. Now this vocabulary comes out of our mouths more frequently than the names of our friends and family--i.e. the people we haven't hugged without fear since we were obsessed with Megxit and Baby Yoda. How cute were we back then, when we didn’t even know how to spell Hydroxychloroquine or pepper our texts with mentions of the Spanish Flu?

This is actually good news: “Being able to communicate using language gave the human species a distinct survival advantage,” writes science podcaster Charles W. Bryant. 

When you review our new language in list form, it's a bracing reminder of just how much our lives have changed—and how much we have learned, adapted to and persevered through—in such a (oh-so-very long-seeming) short time.  

Aerosol

Antibodies: New studies indicate they may be a sign of long-term immunity after all. 

Antigen

Asynchronous Learning: As opposed to synchronous learning, wherein students learn remotely, but from live instruction.

CDC

Clinical Trial: Right now, the US government is funding eight potentially viable vaccines and several are in the third and final phase of development. Experts say a vaccine could be rolled out by January, 2021. 

Community Spread

Distance Learning: AKA How to fight with a kindergartner. You will lose.  

Face Shield: Yes, they are worth investing in, as mucus membranes in the eyes are also vulnerable to the virus. 

Fauci: Voice of Reason. Truth teller. Glossy mag cover star

Flatten the Curve: A hashtag to define an era. 

Hand-Washing Songs: Happy birthdayRaspberry BeretTruth HurtsWhatever gets the bubbles poppin

Herd Immunity

Hotspot

HVAC: Will upgraded filtration systems save movie theaters and malls?

Hybrid Learning

Hydroxychloroquine

Incubation Period

Lockdown

Mask Mandates: Ashley Graham and Christian Siriano are heros for our time. 

Micro-School: Want to rile up a group of parents at a socially distanced backyard bbq? Utter these two words.  

Nasopharayngeal Swab: The verdict from real people who have been tested this way? It’s bad. But it's not tickle-your-brain, I’d rather have an epidural-free childbirth bad. 

N95

Outdoor Dining

Pod: It’s a noun. It’s a verb. It’s a whole lotta controversy.

PPE

Quarantine: We’ve even been known to shorten it to “quar.”

Red Zone

Remdesivir

Remote Learning: This says it all.

SARS-CoV-2

70% Isopropyl Alcohol Solution Sanitizer: Turns out 70% is even more effective than 99% alcohol formulas. The more you know. 

Second Wave

Shedding

Shutdown

Social Distancing

Surge

Vaccine Race Moderna? AstraZeneca? Pfizer? Who needs to follow professional sports or imploding celebrity marriages? All eyes on big pharma. 

Zoom: Maybe you had heard of the platform before March. But we highly doubt you used it as a verb.

Zoom Fatigue: Inspired by the much-bemoaned challenges of professional and educational video conferencing, Microsoft is developing more realistic backgrounds and technology to make our onscreen images visibly emote in ways that feel more lifelike. No word yet on whether we will soon return to wearing pants. 

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