We are living, as they say, in unprecedented times, so it’s only to be expected that our current lexicon is insufficient to describe many aspects of our new, weird, pandemic-era lives. How do you describe that anxious feeling you get when you cough in front of someone for non-coronavirus-related reasons but worry they now think you’re a carrier? Or what about the feeling of shame you get from leaving the house, wondering if onlookers are questioning whether you’re really headed out on essential business? And surely there must be a more specific way to refer to people violating social-distancing protocols than simply “assholes.”
Fortunately, the Dutch are on the case. According to Dutch-born anthropologist Harald Prins, the language already includes many a COVID-era neologism, CNN reported. The Dutch corona-lexicon already comprises 700 new words to describe life in pandemic times, including a few that translate, in English, to “coronajerk,” “skin hunger” and “cough-shame.”
Prins has provided a few standout terms and their English translations, though he noted that certain terms “resonate in a unique social-cultural way in the Netherlands.” Some of the standout phrases, and their English translations as reported by CNN, are below:
Huidhonger / skin hunger: a longing for human contact while in isolation
Anderhalvemetereconomie / six-feet-economy: an economy constructed to avoid spreading coronavirus
Hoestschaamte / cough-shame: the anxiety one may experience about possibly triggering a panic among the people nearby when making a coughing sound for whatever reason
Coronahufter / coronajerk: shopper at a supermarket or store who violates the six-foot social distance prescription or other safe-keeping protocol.
Druppelcontact / spray-contact: exchange of little droplets when sneezing or coughing, esp. as source of infection
Onthamsteren / dehoarding: processing long-stored shelf-stable food into a meal.
Straatschaamte / street-shame: the embarrassment someone experiences when being out for urgently necessary errands during lockdown
Toogviroloog / blather-virologist: dilettante who spreads false or unsubstantiated information about the virus, its transmission, or its treatment
The Dutch aren’t the only ones building a new COVID lexicon. In recent weeks, the English language has welcomed new terms like “quarny” (quarantine horniness), “quarantini” (any of a number of cocktails one might enjoy in quarantine), “zumping” (dumping someone over Zoom, but also not really a thing any would actually say) and “coronials” (the suggested name for a new generation that may result from a rumored post-pandemic baby boom).
Much like the silly names we routinely come up with to describe “toxic dating trends,” however, Prins posits that most of these new terms won’t be long for this world. But in the meantime, at least we have a new vocabulary to properly shame the coronajerks of the world.
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