Macquarie Dictionary


COVID-19 or the coronavirus?

The Macquarie Dictionary is constantly being reviewed and updated to make sure the words and definitions being offered are the most relevant possible. We appreciate any feedback on posts or suggestions of new words (we love them in fact).

We have had a number of queries about COVID-19 and other words to describe reactions and measures following the global pandemic.

An entry for COVID-19 will be appearing online in our next update along with its established variant forms coronavirusWuhan coronavirus and 2019-nCov.

There is always fluidity with new terms but what we are seeing becoming established in Australian English is the form coronavirus over the coronavirus and the capitalised COVID-19 rather than Covid-19.
As most of us are now aware thanks to the 24/7 news cycle focused almost entirely on COVID-19, a coronavirus is not a new development. This word means “an RNA virus affecting mammals, the cause of a variety of illnesses in humans, including the common cold.” As a word, COVID-19 exists to differentiate it from other coronaviruses. Broken into parts, the word means CO(RONA)VI(RUS) + D(ISEASE) + (20)19 (referring to the year it was first reported).
There are other terms which have also come into our environment such as social distancingP2 mask, etc., which will also be reflected in our update. But if you find any others, please let us know.
We hope everyone stays safe as many people start to work from home and self-isolate.
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