COVID-19 Pandemic Phrases: ‘Quarantini,’ ‘Doomscrolling’ and more!


A lighthearted look from one cancer survivor on the phrases that we've learned of, or made up, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We cancer survivors are experienced at self-isolation, but sometimes the nonstop boredom can get us down. Who could blame us for raiding the liquor cabinet for some much-needed liquid refreshment? We might need something to take the edge off our prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.

How about a “quarantini?” That’s a martini that gives a whole new reason to celebrate happy hour on a Zoom or Skype call.

The language website Babbel lays out a few more newly coined terms to tickle your fancy. How about “spendemic?” That’s “an increase in online shopping during the pandemic.” Or “quaranbaking: “The therapeutic act of baking during lockdown.”

Who are these “covidiots”?

Not smiling yet?

Let’s pretend a friend hosts a big party in close quarters with poor ventilation. That would make them a “covidiot,” which defines as “a slang insult for someone who disregards healthy and safety guidelines about the virus.”

Cancer survivors are definitely not “covidiots”. With our immune systems so vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, we certainly know better than to brush off the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. If anything, we’re COVID-compliant with all sensible rules meant to keep us alive.

“Covidiots” are everywhere, infringing upon our six feet of space and refusing to hand-sanitize or cough into their sleeve when they’re near others. And they don’t mind spreading respiratory droplets come what may. Cancer peeps, keep your face shields at the ready!

Mental health tip

If you’re a worrywart like me, you may be constantly checking for COVID-19 updates on social media. That’s called “doomscrolling” in this new pandemic parlance. For good mental health, cut down on your screen time. Cancer survivors are already anxiety-laden, what with scans and tests hanging over our heads, or a new diagnosis to absorb.

Need a laugh? Try holding up the mirror to make a close inspection of your haircut. Did you or your loved one tangle with those tangles? C’mon, be honest, does it look fetching or flawed? You just might be a victim of a “coronacut!”

My coined phrases

I’ve coined a handful of phrases and definitions that try to capture our predicament in a fun and lighthearted manner. Maybe you could add your own phrases, sure to elicit groans your loved ones, and share them with your fellow survivors.

1. “Stayputtenzee there”— The “German” phrase for lockdown.

2. “Fattening the curve” – Watching your waistline expand as you gorge on snacks during this stressful time.

3. “Heard immunity” – Rumors circulating that we’re all in the clear now.

5. “Ice-O-Lation” – Hunkering down in an igloo.

6. “Quaran-Scream” – The distinctive yell that people make when they’re cooped up for way too long.

7. “Contact tracing” – Turning your house upside down to find your missing lens. (Hint: It’s probably under the sofa cushion).

Parting thoughts

I think you’ll agree that the novel coronavirus has changed our language landscape forever. But if we can laugh at these silly words and phrases, we can be good to go for a “safecation” after our vaccination shots kick in.

I’d like to end with a puzzler for you to ponder: When do you think we’ll ever reach a “new normal”? Surely, we don’t want to be “super-spreading” much longer because “pandemic fatigue” is no fun at all!

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