Impress your friends. Tell them that an outbreak is a sudden rise in the appearance of a disease, an epidemic is an outbreak that spreads quickly in a large number of people at the same time, and a pandemic is an epidemic that crosses geographic borders and usually goes global. In other words, a situation goes from bad (outbreak) to worse (epidemic) to the absolute worst (pandemic).
With Covid 19, a whole new vocabulary has appeared in mainstream media. Who can keep up with all the new words? Would an accessible user’s guide to the new Covid lingo be a useful addition to the thinking man’s desktop? I like words. So, hoping for something useful to come out of all this, I’ve compiled a rough guide for those overwhelmed by the vocabulary people are using during the pandemic .
The word Covid itself is short for corona virus disease, and the 19 refers to 2019 when it first appeared. Take the first two letters of corona (CO), add the first two letters of virus (VI), and add the first letter of disease (D). That gives us Covid 2019, which is shortened to Covid 19.
A virus is a microscopic entity that lives in a host. The Covid virus has crown-like thorns on its surface and the Latin word for crown is corona. Think of the English word coronation, an event where a crown is placed on the ruler’s head.
Mainstream media often uses charts or graphs to present viewers with visual information to help them understand numbers. The media uses charts to show how the number of cases spiked or increased in the matter of a few days. Here the word spiked, a word with many different meanings, means increased suddenly.
Seeing these spikes in the number of cases of the disease, authorities spoke of flattening the curve. Because these spikes overwhelmed the medical facilities and frontline workers, authorities needed to flatten the curve or reduce the number of cases to more manageable levels. So, the authorities recommended social distancing and isolation.
Social distancing means avoiding close contact with people during a pandemic to minimize the risk of spreading the disease. When you limit exposure to or contact with carriers of the disease, you reduce the spread or transmission of infection. So when we practice maintaining a greater than usual physical distance from other people we speak of social distancing.
Two other words, isolation and quarantine have gained prominence with the pandemic. Isolation is like being on an island or like leaving space between yourself and others. If this isolation is forced upon you, you are placed in quarantine or you are quarantined. If you do this voluntarily, you can self–isolate or self-quarantine.
This list could continue for a long time. The vocabulary around Covid 19 offers an opportunity for people to experience how language can change and adapt to describe new events or situations. If some of these words are new to you, you might learn them more easily because you will hear them often and you can use them frequently. Therefore, it is hoped that this list will increase your knowledge of English.
By Abdul Matin Chabot