Macquarie Dictionary


The Macquarie Dictionary COVID Word of the Year shortlist

The Macquarie Dictionary COVID Word of the Year is rona. The word was chosen from a list of 20 COVID-related words. You can see the shortlist below. 

Though there are 15 categories in this year’s Macquarie Dictionary Word of the Year, we decided to create a special COVID category to isolate the huge number of pandemic-related words from the rest our shortlist, which you can view here.

Find out which word was voted the People’s Choice Word of the Year.

boomer remover

noun Colloquial (humorous) COVID-19.

[BOOMER + remover, with reference to COVID-19’s greater death rate among older people]


noun a zone comprising two or more countries or states between which people can travel without border restrictions, such as the need to quarantine, especially as established by various governments during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic: a trans-Tasman bubble; a border bubble.

Also, travel bubble.

contact tracing

noun (in epidemiology) the practice of locating people who have been in close proximity to someone diagnosed with an infectious disease, such as an STD, meningococcal disease, measles, coronavirus, etc. 

contact tracer, noun

convalescent plasma

noun plasma taken from someone who has recovered from a disease, the antibody-containing plasma to be infused with the plasma of a person at risk of or suffering from the same disease, thought to boost immunity to or reduce the severity of symptoms of the disease.

cough cloud

noun the mass of aerated sputum, mucus, etc., expelled by a cough.


noun Colloquial (derogatory) a person who refuses to follow health advice aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19, as by not social distancing, taking part in large gatherings, etc., as well as buying large amounts of perceived staples, especially toilet paper. 

[blend of COVID-19 and IDIOT]

COVID normal

noun a way of living in which a community takes precautions against the transmission of COVID-19, prior to the availability of an effective vaccine, as a natural part of day-to-day life.

Also, COVID-normal.

doughnut day

noun Colloquial a day in which zero cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 are recorded in a region.

Also, donut day. [so called from the resemblance of a doughnut to the numeral zero]

elbow bump

noun a tap on someone’s pointed elbow with one’s own pointed elbow, used as a greeting instead of a handshake, kiss, hug, etc., to reduce the risk of transmission of infection, especially during a pandemic.


verb (i) (hubbed, hubbing) to form a hub; to be part of a hub: *Starc is thankful he can walk down the street in Adelaide for a coffee while hubbing for the Sheffield Shield. –CANBERRA TIMES, 2020.


noun a situation in which there is such an abundance of information available on a particular subject, that it is difficult to ascertain which is reliable and which is not. 



a word element used, often humorously, to form words relating to self-isolation, as in isolationship (a relationship formed during self-isolation), isoreading (reading undertaken during self-isolation).

long COVID

noun a debilitating condition suffered by a person who has recovered from COVID-19, but who continues to experience a wide range of symptoms, including extreme fatigue, breathlessness, a persistent cough, etc., and sometimes suffers damage to major organs.


noun Colloquial (derogatory) an anti-masker. 



noun a mixed alcoholic drink made at home during a time of enforced social isolation, as during a pandemic, such as COVID-19. 

[humorous blend of QUARANTINE and MARTINI]

R number

noun (in epidemiology) the number of people, on average, to whom one infected person will pass on an infectious disease.

Also, R value. [R(EPRODUCTION) + NUMBER]


noun Colloquial COVID-19: we met online during the rona; Rona wrecked their wedding plans.

Also, Rona, ‘rona, ‘Rona. [(CO)RONA(VIRUS)]

sentinel surveillance

noun the testing of a subset of a population for a particular disease, the results of the sample being taken as representative of the presence or prevalence of the disease in the wider population. 

Also, sentinel testing.

social distancing

noun (especially in epidemiology) the practice of maintaining a distance, usually specified by a health authority, between individuals, as a means of limiting transmission of an infectious disease. 

Also, physical distancing.


working from home.

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