Crisis, particularly one that is relatively novel, has a tendency to lead to lexical innovation. In order to relate to each other, we flex our linguistic creativity to develop a communal lexicon to better communicate the feelings and impact to our lives as a result of the extreme circumstances.
The following are a few of our favorite neologisms and our definitions, as we understand them, based on the contexts in which we’ve seen others use these words.
A Brief COVID-19 Dictionary
Blursday | noun
Blurs·day | \ ˈblərs-ˈdā \
Definition of Blursday
1 : a day of the week vaguely or indistinctly perceived
// Everyday is Blursday when you’re on a coronacation.
commute | intransitive verb
com·mute | \ kə-ˈmyüt \
Definition of commute
1 : to travel back and forth regularly (as between a bed, a bathroom, and a computer)
// His daily commute to work takes approximately 10 minutes from the time his alarm goes off and no seconds from the time he walks aways from his computer.
2 : to travel back and forth regularly (as between a suburb and a city)
// She commutes an hour to and from work every day by car and sometimes wakes up wondering where the time has gone.
coronacation | noun
co·ro·na·ca·tion | \ kə-ˈrō-nə-ˈkā-shən \
Definition of coronacation
1 : a forced staycation
// They were considered nonessential workers and had to go on a coronacation.
corona coaster | noun
co·ro·na coast·er | \ kə-ˈrō-nə-ˌkō-stər
Definition of corona coaster
1 : something resembling a roller coaster, especially behavior, events, or experiences characterized by sudden and extreme changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic
// The economy is riding the corona coaster and no one is sure what to expect with the next wave of shutdowns.
coronarita | noun
co·ro·na·ri·ta | \ kə-ˈrō-nə-ˈrē-tə \
Definition of coronarita
1 : a cocktail consisting of tequila, lime or lemon juice, and an orange-flavored liqueur consumed in the confines of one’s home either alone or while on a video chat
// Everyone had a few too many coronaritas during our Zoom happy hour; luckily, the commute wasn’t far.
coronnial | noun
co·ron·ni·al | \ kə-ˈrōn-nē-əl \
Definition of coronnial
1 : of, relating to, or belonging to the group of people conceived during the COVID-19 pandemic : especially of or relating to being conceived during a coronacation
// While there is yet to be a consensus on whether coronacations and social distancing will lead to a baby boom or bust, coronnials will be the generation marked by the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID cluster | noun
COVID clus·ter | \ ˈkō-vid-ˈklə-stər \
Definition of COVID cluster
1 : an aggregation of people that appear close together, with or without masks, and are gravitationally associated with bars, beaches, and events during the COVID-19 pandemic
Note – relating to cluster : a larger than expected number of cases of disease occurring in a particular locality, group of people, or period of time
// Coronnials will look back on images of COVID clusters on the beaches in Florida and playing beer pong in pools in Arizona and wonder what the hell people were thinking.
COVID-15 | noun
COVID fif·teen | \ ˈkō-vid-ˌfif-ˈtēn \
Definition of COVID-15
1 : a popular term for weight gain affecting many Americans during a stay-at-home order during which they typically live consistently within several feet of their refrigerator and pantry. Food consumption becomes more frequent and indiscriminate than is typical of relatively scheduled and balanced meals eaten around a 9 to 5 work schedule. The number 15 refers to the pounds gained during this period.
// The internet was quickly flooded with articles about how to fend off the COVID-15 as Americans began to realize their scales weren’t actually broken.
doomscrolling | verb
doom·scrol·ling | \ ˈdüm-ˈskrōl-liŋ \
Definition of doomscrolling
1 : to continuously move text or graphics up or down or across a display screen as if by unrolling a scroll : especially of or relating to the inability to stop consuming COVID-19 pandemic news
// The 24/7 news cycle feeds off doomscrolling, so stop it, and get some sleep!
happy hour | noun
hap·py hour | \ ˈha-pē-ˈau̇(-ə)r \
Definition of happy hour
1 : a period of time during which one concocts and pours one’s own drink (at a reduced cost in comparison to drinks consumed at a bar) and participates in a video chat having or marked by an atmosphere of good fellowship
// We all enjoyed the company happy hour — despite the distance — with a glass in hand, in the glow of our screens.
on-off hours | noun
on-off hours | \ ˈȯn-ˈȯf-ˈau̇(-ə)rs \
Definition of on-off hours
1 : relating to something that is an action or occurrence when something begins, and in absence from or suspension of regular work or service
: especially relevant to at-home work hours
// The boss started to suspect the employees on-off hours were relative to the number of quarantinis consumed at happy hour.
quarantini | noun
quar·an·ti·ni | \ ˈkwȯr-ən-ˈtē-nē \
Definition of quarantini
1 : a cocktail made of gin (or vodka) and dry vermouth in a state of enforced isolation
// A quarantini a day keeps the _______ away.
strategy session | noun
strat·e·gy ses·sion | \ ˈstra-tə-jē-ˈse-shən \
Definition of strategy session
1 : a blocked-out time on an employee’s calendar for a short sleep (especially during the day) under the guise of a meeting or series of meetings for the transaction of business
// The client relations manager blocked out several strategy sessions throughout the week, but came back with very little to report at the staff meeting.
Snap Camera | noun
Snap Cam·era | \ ˈsnap-ˈka-mə-rə \
Definition of Snap Camera
1 : a free desktop application that adds augmented reality effects and brings the magic of Lenses to a user’s webcam
// We used Snap Camera during our Google Meet company happy hour, but it got weird when a half-peeled banana with the likeness of our project manager suddenly appeared on screen.
the boss is calling
Meaning of the boss is calling
1 : to subject one’s spouse or partner to small requests (often relating to household chores) while they are held in duress by a stay-at-home order
// “The boss is calling,” he said, but he was just being henpecked to help with dinner.
// “The boss is calling,” she sighed to her coworker over Zoom as her spouse held up the children’s homework papers over the top of her monitor and shrugged.
video call formal
Etiquette relating to video call formal : Video call formal, video chat attire or a Zoom shirt is the new traditional Western dress code category applicable for most online occasions, such as business meetings, webinars, client video chats, happy hours, and virtual parties. Virtual weddings and virtual Burning Man do not fall into this category. Video wear is divided into formal day and evening wear; implying polo or dress shirt with yoga pants, pajama bottoms, or boxers before 6 p.m. and anything goes after 6 p.m. Generally permitted other alternatives, though, are the fancier versions of wear — like blazers for men and women. Most rarely permitted is swim attire, which is only regionally accepted based on proximity to the beach (but not if you’re a lawyer. Yes, even in Florida).
walktail | noun
walk·tail | \ ˈwäk-ˌtāl \
Definition of walktail
1 : a usually iced drink of wine or distilled liquor mixed with flavoring ingredients in a to-go cup, bought at a bar (where legal) or self-poured at home and then drunk while walking
// It’s not legal to drink a cocktail on the street in most of the US, but bars in places like New York City are finding that it is an effective way to stay open while promoting social distancing.
working late | noun
work·ing late | \ ˈwər-kiŋ-ˈlāt \
Definition of working late
1 : engaged in work especially for wages or a salary after the usual or proper time with Netflix, Prime, HBO Max or another streaming service on in the background
// I usually “watch” all the shows I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve seen when I’m working late because I generally only barely have to check in to follow the plot and/or it doesn’t matter.
Zoom bomb | verb
Zoom bomb | \ ˈzüm-ˈbäm \
Definition of Zoom bomb
1 : to be speedily defeated decisively by an unwanted, disruptive intrusion, generally by Internet trolls or hackers in a video conference call :especially a teleconference session hijacked by the insertion of material that is obscene or racist in nature, typically resulting in a shutdown of the session // Zoom hired Salesforce’s senior vice president of security, Jason Lee, as its new chief information security officer in an effort to counteract the bad press resulting from consumers complaints about Zoom bombings.
zumping | verb
zump·ing | \ ˈzəm-piŋ \
Definition of zumping
1 : the end of a romantic interlude via video chat
// We are now living in a time when online dating ends in zumping before couples have even met in person.
Our contribution to the COVID-19 dictionary, for the public’s approval:
caronasylum | noun
car·o·na·sy·lum | \ ˈkär-ō-nə-ˈsī-ləm \
Definition of caronasylum
1 : a vehicular place of refuge and protection providing shelter from children, pets, and other noise makers or visual distractions while on a business call or video chat
// She usually took video calls in her caronasylum in the garage where she could still get decent WiFi without being video bombed by her five-year-old.
eyeling | verb
eye·ling | \ ˈī-liŋ \
Definition of eyeling
1 : to have, produce, or exhibit the squinting effect associated with a smile in the eye region because the wearing of a mask in public prevents seeing one’s mouth
// It seems Americans are uncomfortable with masks because it is harder to tell someone’s intent while wearing them, but one just has to pay more attention to tone of voice and whether or not someone is eyeling.
*Yes, we heard about smize — but we’re not modeling now, are we?