11 New Words and Phrases Inspired by the Coronavirus

New words and phrases are popping up to help us describe living in the time of COVID-19.
New words and phrases are popping up to help us describe living in the time of COVID-19. / vectorplusb/iStock via Getty Images Plus

If you’re struggling to describe the new coronavirus era we’re living in, well, you’re not alone. In fact, many new words and phrases have been coined to help us talk about these unprecedented times (itself a phrase that has seen a huge spike in usage). The language experts at Babbel sent us a few of the new coronavirus-inspired words that humanity is adding to its covidictionary.

1. Coronaspeck

One of Mental Floss’s favorite German words, kummerspeck, literally translates to “grief bacon,” and it refers to the weight you gain due to overeating when you’re emotional. According to the experts at Babbel, “In German, the word speck is used to refer to the bacon-like pork fat found in a bratwurst (sausage).” But when pairing speck with corona, Germans have created “an expression for the weight gained in lockdown.”

2. Dracula Cough and Sneeze

Preschool teachers tell their students to cough or sneeze hygienically into their cough pockets, and the phrase “cough and sneeze like Dracula” basically means the same thing: Make like Dracula raising his cape to cover his face and sneeze in your elbow.

3. Covidiota

This Spanish term was coined online, according to the experts at Babbel, and can apply “to anyone who isn’t following lockdown rules, such as those who are still meeting friends, having parties, or sharing drinks—and everything else in between.” In English, you’d say covidiot.

4. Zumped

Forget about ghosting. Zumped is the new COVID-inspired phrase for breaking up with someone over video chat.

5. On-nomi

Bars are closed, but friends are still finding a way to enjoy happy hour—only now, they do it via video chat. The Japanese have created a word for this new coronavirus activity: on-nomi, which literally means “drink online.”

6. Quarantini

The English word for what you’re drinking while you’re sitting at home. According to the Babbel experts, “In the U.S, this drink comes with a specific recipe: a martini of vodka and gin mixed with Emergen-C vitamin powder, to calm your nerves and boost your immune system at the same time.”

7. Zoom Bombing

This term refers to the unwanted presence of a person on a video chat, usually in the meeting program Zoom. “It’s the photobombing of the coronavirus age,” the Babbel experts explain. “Whether you use this term to describe a complete stranger entering your work’s video meeting, or the friend you didn’t want to see inviting themselves to your digital get-together, is up to you entirely.”

8. Spendemic

This word—which was, the Babbel experts say, coined by The New York Post—refers to the increase in online shopping during the pandemic.

9. Coronials

According to the Babbel experts, coronials is the term being used for the babies who will be born after lockdown: “Coronials began trending on social media when social media users wondered if the pandemic could cause an increase in birth rate since more time spent in the home could lead to slightly bigger families in the future.”

10. Quaranbaking

Some are making quarantinis during lockdown; others are finding comfort in quaranbaking. This term, which reportedly trended on Twitter, is all about "the therapeutic act of baking during lockdown," according to the Babbel experts.

11. Hamsterkauf

Feel free to use this German term the next time you see shoppers frantically grabbing toilet paper off of store shelves. “The German words Hamster (hamster) and Kauf (buying) are joined metaphorically, to compare supermarket raiders to hamsters, who stock up food for an entire winter by stuffing their cheeks full of it,” the Babbel experts explain. “If you’ve seen someone hoarding bottles of water or buying three times the amount of ravioli they usually would, then you’ve come across a hamsterkauf.