language of covid

Language of COVID | 10 Words Added to the Dictionary

Yay! It’s finally the holidays! Time for a vacation!!! Or is it… coronacation?

I’m Ms Azmeera, a teacher at Lil’ but Mighty. As we approach the end of 2021, the coronavirus continues to shape both our lives and language. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but we’ve been experiencing an outbreak of new words, definitions and slang emerging from the pandemic. Some of these terms emphasise the seriousness of the situation we are currently in, while others are more humorous in nature, meant to make us laugh.

All of them, however, share a common purpose – in coining new words and phrases, we are better able to make sense of and reflect on the world we live in. The bottom line is, the pandemic has played a major role in influencing the English Language. Let’s take a look at ten words and phrases related to the language of Covid which have been added to the dictionary! Do take note that most of these phrases are used in a more casual context and are unlikely to be used in formal contexts like during your writing!


1. Rona or The rona

Meaning: (noun) slang for coronavirus (used mainly in USA & Australia)

Sentence example: Everything changed when the rona attacked.


2. WFH

Meaning: (abbreviation) working from home; work from home

Sentence example: My boss allows me to wfh three days a week, which means I get to save three hours of commuting a day.

language of covid

3. Social distancing

Meaning: (noun) the action or practice of maintaining a certain physical distance from, or limiting physical contact with, another person or people, especially in order to avoid catching or transmitting an infectious disease

Sentence example: Singapore’s fully vaccinated residents will enjoy relaxed social- distancing restrictions from Tuesday, including the ability to dine out in bigger groups.

4. PPE

Meaning: (abbreviation) Personal Protective Equipment — equipment and clothing that protects people from health risks at work

Sentence example: Healthcare professionals in the U.S. continue to face shortages of PPE. This puts their lives at risk.

5. Elbow bump

Meaning: (noun) a gesture (usually of greeting or farewell) in which two people lightly tap their elbows together as an alternative to a handshake or embrace, especially in order to reduce the risk of spreading or catching an infection or disease

Sentence example: Elbow bumps are the new handshake, although they might still not be enough to avoid spreading the virus.

language of covid

6. Super-spreader

Meaning 1: (noun) A highly contagious person capable of passing on a disease to many others

Sentence example: The super-spreader who infected at least 11 other people while travelling from Singapore to U.K. has been identified.

Meaning 2: (noun) an event or location at which a significant number of people contract the same communicable disease — often used before another noun

Sentence example: The music festival quickly turned into a
superspreader site after almost 5,000 people who attended it tested positive for COVID-19.

7. Vaxxie

Meaning: (noun) a photograph of oneself taken during or immediately after a vaccination (typically posted on social media); a vaccination selfie

Sentence example: Are you guilty of posting your vaxxie all over social media? 😂

Vocabulary Memes

8. Vaccine passport

Meaning: (noun) a physical or digital document providing proof of vaccination

Sentence example: In Italy, citizens are burning their vaccine passports to protest against the government’s authoritarian health mandates.

Vocabulary Memes

9. Long COVID

Meaning: (noun) a medical condition suffered by some people who have had COVID-19 and continue to feel the effects of the illness for weeks or months afterwards

Sentence example: Symptoms of long COVID can include breathlessness, chronic fatigue, “brain fog”, anxiety and stress.

10. Breakthrough

Meaning: (noun) infection occurring in someone who is fully vaccinated against an infectious agent — often used before another noun (as in “breakthrough cases” or “breakthrough infection”)

Sentence example: Health officials are advising fully vaccinated individuals to get their COVID booster shots to prevent breakthrough cases.

There we have it! Ten newly created words and expressions that popped up in our everyday vocabulary due to the coronavirus. Did any of them ring a bell to you? Hmm… I wonder what else we’ll come up with in the time of The Rona. Do you have any silly ones? Perhaps the lexicographer (a person who studies developments in the English language and compiles dictionaries) will add yours to the list! Do share with us in the comment box below. Till my next post, stay safe!


Ms. Azmeera

As a tutor, Ms Azmeera has acquired insight and experience in teaching primary level English. With her years of experience in the private education sector, she wishes to motivate and inspire her students to fall in love with the English language.

Let’s explore and discover new things together at Lil’ but Mighty!

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