OPENING UP THE COVIDICTIONARY / (3)an online text story – jieun heo

The new language for the new normal

The term the ‘new normal’ has become overused in describing the vast changes to our lifestyles brought about by the Covid epidemic. Along with these changes, our vocabulary has also expanded to incorporate all the new words and phrases that have been coined. These are some of the most common Covidictionary entries.

We are still coming to terms with what some are referring to as the Coronomic Shock of the virus, on a personal level, the word Covidivorce is a compound word of Covid and divorce, reflecting the actual increase in divorce as a result of the stress on relationships caused by couples forced to spend more time at home together due to online working and social distancing caused by Covid 19. The divorce rate has increased in both the U.K. and the U.S. during the last year. For those who are not in close proximity, there is Zumped, combining Zoom and dumping to describe breaking up with someone on a video call. Zoom is a common source of neologisms, with the term Zoom Bombing used for unwanted and uninvited guests in the background during video conversations. Meanwhile, a Covideo Party is an online one held on Skype or Zoom platforms.

Another word is Untact, merging un and contact to refer to any non-face-to-face means of staying in touch with someone. It is a term which has actually been around for a number of years before gaining wider popularity during the pandemic. Corona Blue is a term which is used for the now familiar general feeling of lethargy and mild depression that some have been suffering from. An antidote could be Quaranbaking, which is the form of therapy found in baking at home, putting a serious strain on the nation’s eggs supplies. Other’s have found themselves part of the Spendemic which has seen online shopping sales soar since lockdowns began. Others are turning to Quarantini, which means drinking alone during the pandemic. Perhaps too much Quarantini can add to the feeling of Blursday, the unspecified day of the weak coined to describe the disorienting effects of lockdown, leading to every day being pretty much indistinguishable from the other for many of us.

There are foreign neologisms as well. On-nomi (drink online) is the Japanese term for what some in the Anglosphere call Virtual Happy Hour – sharing some beverages with friends over the Internet, a more sociable alternative to Quarantini perhaps.  In Germany, a Hamsterkauf combines hamster with kauf (buy) to disparagingly describe hoarders, likening them to rodents stuffing their cheeks with food for consumption later. Also from German comes Coronaspeck (speck is German for bacon), which describes the weight that we have put on due to a lack of activity during lockdown. Also from German is Öffnungsdiskussionsorgien (‘orgies of discussion’) to describe the constant policy discussions about re-opening after lockdown.  We are all more than familiar with Covidiots by though, to describe those who flout rules on social distancing; the Spanish term is Covidiota.

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