From “quarantine” to “cocooning”, many new words and phrases have become common when people talk about the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on their lives.
ike so many other parts of life, the words we use on a daily basis were profoundly impacted by the pandemic.
The changes were so significant that American online dictionary Merriam-Webster announced it was making an unscheduled update to the dictionary.
While some of the words associated with the disease and the resulting global response are new, others have been around for a while but are newly prominent or have revised definitions.
The Oxford English Dictionary also issued two special updates to include coronavirus-related language in 2020.
Editors noted these updates included new words brought on by the pandemic and the resurgence of lesser-known terms, as well as medical definitions not included in previous editions.
“Covid-19” and “social distancing” were some of the newest terms added, in addition to the names of drugs that became part of the public discourse at the start of the pandemic, such as hydroxychloroquine and dexamethasone.
Here’s a closer look at some of the terms that are part of our “new normal”.
1 Social distancing
Perhaps one of the most commonly used terms since the onset of the pandemic, social distancing refers to the act of staying away from other people to prevent the virus from spreading.
This is done by keeping a space of two metres between you and other people, reducing physical connection with people outside the workplace and home, reducing the number of people you meet every day and avoiding crowded spaces.
2 Pandemic shaming
There is a significant divide in public opinion among those who believe things such as mask wearing and social distancing should continue and those who would like to return to life as we once knew it.
People upset about others violating pandemic norms have taken to social media to shame or embarrass those caught in the act.
Pandemic shaming has created a moral conflict in society with many people questioning whether meeting a friend is the ethical thing to do.
3 Emergency brake
An emergency brake refers to the immediate and sudden closure of sections of society due to a sharp rise in infections.
It is used as an attempt to prevent long-term lockdowns by being applied swiftly before the virus has a chance to spread further.
This phrase has been used in many international headlines as countries including Canada and Germany have applied emergency-brake lockdowns in an attempt to combat soaring case numbers.
Perhaps one of the most dreaded terms used throughout the pandemic, a lockdown is a period of time in which people are not allowed to leave their homes or travel freely, because of a contagious disease.
As a country that has had three national lockdowns in the past year, the term is one that most Irish people will likely be glad to see the back of.
5 Mini boom
A mini boom refers to the short-term period of increased commercial activity within the economy which typically occurs when industries and business reopen after a lockdown is lifted.
Ireland is gearing up for a mini boom of its own as hairdressers, shops, hotels, restaurants and pubs finally reopen after four months of Level 5 restrictions.
6 Click and collect
This is a service whereby a customer can buy or order goods from a store’s website and collect them from a local branch.
Although many retailers have provided this add-on service long before Covid-19 came about, it has become increasingly popular since the pandemic as many consumers are keen to limit their social interactions.
Despite being viewed as a Covid-friendly alternative to shopping, click-and-collect services for non-essential retailers were banned in January in a bid to further restrict unnecessary movements.
However, under the Government’s pathway back to normality, the popular shopping facility will be making a return on May 10.
7 Wet pubs
A wet pub is a pub that does not serve food, instead relying entirely on drinks sales for revenue – but was certainly not commonly heard of 14 months ago.
Wet pubs have had a tough break throughout the pandemic as bars not serving food have been forced to keep their shutters down since the virus arrived on Irish shores in March 2020.
A combination of mask and acne, maskne describes the skin breakouts people can get from frequently wearing a mask.
Front line workers have said that the increased hours behind the mask has led them to encounter skin complaints which they might never have faced before, or exacerbated previously existing skin problems.
9 Social bubbles
This is an exclusive social network in which members can have physical contact with each other but not with anyone else.
The extended household approach works on the basis of exclusivity and has allowed people to facilitate childcare needs and alleviate social isolation for people living alone.
As the multiple households are considered to be a single household, if anyone in a bubble displays symptoms of Covid-19 then the entire bubble must self-isolate or quarantine.
10 Takeaway pints
Since the pandemic began, pubs have been forced to close their shutters.
However, it remains legal for publicans to sell takeaway pints and to do home deliveries.
Takeaway pints have become a social phenomenon throughout the Covid-19 crisis, and have given rise to on-street drinking by groups of people.
Under licensing regulations, takeaway drinks cannot be consumed within 100 metres of the premises that sold them.
This is a holiday that you take within your own country rather than travelling abroad.
With the Government’s ban on non-essential foreign travel, the pandemic has resulted in a so-called staycation boom, with many people choosing to holiday in popular tourist destinations within the island of Ireland.
A combination of Covid and idiot, this is someone who refuses to wear a mask or practice safe social distancing and generally behaves in an irresponsible manner.
The term goes hand in hand with “anti-maskers”, those opposed to wearing a face mask during a public health crisis.
A blend of the words quarantine and martini, this is a cocktail that is made at home and drunk alone or with members of your household during lockdown.
The art of cocktail making is one of many pastimes that have been made popular by the pandemic as people have become more creative while spending more time at home.
An abbreviation for Working From Home, this refers to employees working remotely in their homes rather than commuting to an office.
Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland
This has become the new way of doing business across the world during the pandemic in an effort to limit physical interaction.
15 Contactless delivery
This involves having a takeaway delivered without the courier handing it to you directly.
Many people are choosing contactless delivery in a bid to minimise their physical contacts.
This means when the courier arrives, the delivery is left on the doorstep and there is a knock on the door, allowing the customer to collect the delivery themselves without physical interaction.
Deliveroo and UberEats have both launched official contactless delivery methods and “leave at the door” delivery options.
16 Flattening the curve
Typically heard in official government addresses, this is a public health strategy to slow down the spread of the virus.
The curve being flattened is the rate of virus spread, a visual representation of the number of infected people over time.
Flattening the curve means slowing the spread of the virus so that the peak number of people requiring care at a time is reduced, and the health care system does not exceed its capacity.
17 Close contact
This is someone who has spent more than 15 minutes in face-to-face contact within two metres of someone who has Covid-19, indoors or outdoors.
It may also refer to someone living in the same house or shared accommodation as someone who has Covid-19 or sitting within two seats of someone who has Covid-19 on public transport or an airplane.
Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, public officials have used the terms essential and non-essential to describe the types of businesses that should be open or closed and the types of services that should continue as planned or be cancelled.
For example, hospitals, pharmacies and grocery stores are considered essential and remain open, while movie theaters and hair salons are not and have been closed for months.
19 Elbow bump
Also known as the Wuhan Shake, this is where two people bump elbows as an alternative to a handshake.
This form of greeting has become increasingly popular as health officials supported its use as an alternative to hand-shaking to reduce the spread of germs.
20 Vaccine passport
A program that would provide people who have received an approved vaccine with proof-of-vaccination certificates.
These would allow them to engage in activity such as international travel.
This program is still in development in many countries and has not yet been approved in Ireland.