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.
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.
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.
Forget about ghosting. Zumped is the new COVID-inspired phrase for breaking up with someone over video chat.
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.”
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.”
This word—which was, the Babbel experts say, coined by The New York Post—refers to the increase in online shopping during the pandemic.
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.”
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.
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.”
The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.
1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14
Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.
2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140
Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.
Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.
4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30
The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.
5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19
Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.
6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25
This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.
Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail.
What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.
Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.
Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.
At first glance, the dictionary seems pretty straightforward. Words are listed alphabetically, and you simply locate the right page and scan until you find the word you’re looking for. But there’s a lot you might not know about the dictionary, such as how new words are added and why Noah Webster learned Sanskrit to write his dictionary. So without further ado, read on to discover a dozen things you might not know about various dictionaries.
1. It takes a lot of work to add a new word to a dictionary.
When people use a word or phrase frequently enough that it appears in widely read print and online publications, lexicographers take notice. First, they collect citations of the word, documenting the source it appeared in and recording its contextual meaning. Then, lexicographers conduct database research, searching for evidence that people from diverse backgrounds have used the word over a period of time. Finally, dictionary editors review the evidence and decide whether or not to include the new word in an upcoming edition of the dictionary. Thanks to this lengthy process, you can now find modern words such as manspread, presstitute, and athleisure in several dictionaries.
2. The first English dictionaries included difficult words.
We think of dictionaries as comprehensive tomes containing everything from antelope and apple to zeitgeist and zootrophy, but early English dictionaries didn't contain any simple, common words. In the 16th and 17th centuries, thanks in part to the Renaissance's classical influence, English doubled its vocabulary by incorporating words from other languages. People needed to consult word lists to look up these new, difficult words that they hadn't heard before. In 1604, a teacher named Robert Cawdrey compiled a list of words into A Table Alphabeticall, which defined difficult English words borrowed from Latin, Greek, French, and Hebrew. Throughout the 17th century, other English men published lists of hard words with easy to understand definitions, and people turned to the dictionary to learn these words.
3. Noah Webster learned 26 languages to write his dictionary.
Although Noah Webster wasn't the first American to produce a dictionary, his name has become synonymous with the American dictionary. Hoping to help create a uniquely American lexicon, with Americanized spelling and pronunciation of words, Webster wroteAn American Dictionary of the English Language. To thoroughly research word origins and sources, Webster got serious about becoming an etymology expert. He learned 26 languages, including Sanskrit and Old English, to write his dictionary. Published in 1828, it contained 70,000 entries and included the first definitions of "American" words such as chowder and skunk.
4. The first Merriam-Webster Dictionary cost $6.
After Webster died in 1843, George and Charles Merriam bought the rights to revise Webster's An American Dictionary of the English Language, Corrected and Enlarged. The two brothers printed and sold books in Springfield, Massachusetts, and their intellectual property purchase paid off. In the fall of 1847, the Merriams issued the first revised Webster dictionary for six dollars. The book sold well, and the G. & C. Merriam Co. was eventually renamed Merriam-Webster, Inc. in 1982. Merriam-Webster continues to publish popular print and electronic dictionaries today.
5. It took almost 50 years to create the Oxford English Dictionary.
In 1857, the Philological Society of London first called for a comprehensive English language dictionary, including words from the 12th century to the present. In 1879, the Philological Society joined forces with Oxford University Press, and work commenced. In 1884, Oxford University Press published the first part of the dictionary (A to Ant), and the final volume was published in 1928. Called A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles, the dictionary listed more than 400,000 words and phrases. Today, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is one of the most respected and widely used dictionaries.
6. J.R.R. Tolkien researched word etymologies for the Oxford English Dictionary.
After serving in World War I, J.R.R. Tolkien worked as an editor's assistant on the OED. His job was to research the etymologies of certain words that started with the letter w. Tolkien also composed multiple drafts of definitions for words such as waggle, walnut, walrus, and waistcoat. After his time at the OED, Tolkien went on to work as an English professor and write The Lord of the Rings. Subsequently, the OED has added terms that Tolkien himself coined, such as hobbit, mithril, and mathom.
7. Fake words sometimes make their way into a dictionary.
Due to human error, a handful of fake words have appeared in dictionaries over the centuries. Some words, like phantomnation, which appeared in an 1864 edition of Webster's, are the result of missing hyphens. Others are typographical errors. A 1934 edition of Webster’s New International Dictionary defined dord as density, the result of confusion over spacing. Some dictionary editors have even intentionally included fake words, such as esquivalience in The New Oxford American Dictionary, to protect their copyright.
8. The Oxford English Dictionary needs your help.
Although many scholars consider the OED to be the definitive authority on dictionaries, the OED needs your help. At any given time, the dictionary's editors are researching the history of certain words and phrases, and The OED Appeals allows the public to submit evidence (via the comments section) of the earliest record of certain words. Camouflage and Arnold Palmer are two entries that the OED has recently researched, so if you have old books or magazines that mention some weird word, let the OED know. You might just see your contribution in the dictionary's next edition.
9. Sample sentences from dictionaries can make interesting short stories.
You might think that all those sample sentences in the dictionary are random, but you'd only be partially right. The phrases are deliberately chosen to show the word in a clear context with other words that it's often associated with, and are ideally so boring that you don't even think twice about them. Illustrator Jez Burrows has connected these random sentences from the New Oxford American Dictionary into short stories. "Often I’ll find at least one [word] that makes a good jumping-off point and I’ll start to flesh out some sort of vague narrative, then work backwards to imagine what sort of words might give rise to the sentences I'm looking for," Burrows said of his process.
10. There are a lot of weird dictionaries in existence.
11. Urban Dictionary capitalizes on being a slang haven.
Urban Dictionary, the online, crowdsourced listing of millions of slang words and phrases, is beloved by middle schoolers and anyone trying to understand the latest slang terms. But Urban Dictionary is more than a dictionary. It also has an online store that sells mugs, T-shirts, an official card game, and plush dolls inspired by dirty phrases that the dictionary has helped to popularize (like Golden Shower and Donkey Punch). If you're unfamiliar with the definitions of those disgusting phrases, we'll let you look them up, but don’t say we didn't warn you.
12. A California school district considered banning Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
In 2010, a school district in Southern California temporarily removed all copies of the Merriam-Webster 10th Collegiate Edition from elementary school classrooms. Why remove the dictionary? After a parent told the principal of Oak Meadows Elementary School that the dictionary contained an explicit definition of a sex act, the school district decided to remove the books. A committee of teachers, administrators, and parents decided that the dictionary was age-appropriate, and the copies of Merriam-Webster were returned to the classroom. Here's hoping that parent never discovers Urban Dictionary!