The Pandemic Dictionary: From Aarogya Setu to Zoom calls and all the new words in between

In a year where we find ourselves at a loss for words, we also relearn our ABCs

Finally, we have reached the last leg of this dangerous drudgery — oh, what a year it has been. Not even in our wildest of dreams could we have imagined living through a pandemic. Even the generation prior to ours has wrestled to understand the health crisis that engulfed the entire planet in a matter of months. But now, with the year drawing to a close, here’s us surviving in the ‘new normal’ — one that will likely be a long-lasting one.

While this has been a year we find hard to describe in words, it has also been one that has given a lot of new words. Our ‘pandemic dictionary’ features words that have become a part of our lexicon, since the pandemic and its resultant chaos is all that we have discussed for the large part of the year. Here is the A to Z of some common COVID-related words that 2020 will be remembered by.

It is time to relearn our ABCs; don’t you agree?

A — AYUSH Ministry, Aarogya Setu app, airports, air bubbles

Safe to say, people turned to alternative and indigenous medicines this year, looking toward the AYUSH Ministry for guidance on how they can stay healthy. Also, the government introduced the Aarogya Setu app for contact-tracing, even as it faced resistance. Airports became a topic of discussion, because they were closed in the first half of the year, after which domestic and international travel started to take off slowly, often within an air bubble created between two countries.

B — Baking at home

With nowhere to go, people started taking to culinary activities to keep themselves busy. Among them, baking became a huge hit, with many chefs, celebrities and regular people whisking delicious recipes that they then shared and continue to share on social media.

ALSO READ |Banana bread to pizza cereals: Top baking trends of 2020

C — Coronavirus, COVID-19

This one is a no-brainer. Isn’t it? The letter ‘C’ is the reason we have this pandemic dictionary in the first place! Sigh…

ALSO READ |Why antibodies may not safeguard you against COVID-19 reinfection

D — Doctors, domestic help, DIY, Dalgona

The heroes that rose to the occasion — doctors and nurses. Working relentlessly day in and out, they have had no break since March 2020. Domestic helps around the country also offered their services even in these difficult times in return for some money. Sadly, some of them continue to stay unemployed. DIY or do-it-yourself started to trend, because the months spent in lockdown taught us to be self-reliant. And can we ever forget the Dalgona coffee trend that took social media by storm? It turned everyone into a coffee lover!

E — Entertainment at home

Thank you, dear lord, for streaming platforms and other means to keep ourselves busy and entertained at home. In lockdown, there was no question of going out, so we had to make do with whatever home entertainment options were available to us.

F — Frontline warriors, face masks

These two terms marked 2020 for us. While some of us had the privilege of staying at home, some others were taking the pandemic head on. These people have been our frontline warriors and the real heroes of the pandemic — our doctors, nurses, health care staff, police personnel, those defending our borders, social workers, to name a few. It also became imperative that we wear masks to keep ourselves and others safe.

G — Government guidelines, gloves

This year was all about being responsible and following the guidelines mandated by the government. The year was also about gloves — not the ones to keep you warm, but the ones with which to keep the virus from reaching your hands.

H — Hospitals, home quarantine

Hospitals across the country became busier than ever before this year, catering to a surge of patients. The concept of home quarantine was also introduced, wherein people with milder and manageable symptoms were advised to stay quarantined in the comfort of their home, as opposed to getting themselves admitted into hospitals.

I — Isolation, immunity

It has now been understood that you need to isolate yourself if you are found showing symptoms. Also building your immunity is important, because it is only your body’s natural defence system that can keep you healthy during this crucial time.

ALSO READ |Immunity-boosting foods that kept us healthy amid pandemic

J — Job losses

The sad reality of 2020 was that among other things, the economic meltdown led to many people becoming redundant in their organisations and losing their jobs.

K — Kadha

 Kadha was touted as the saviour that built up immunity. The concoction of herbs and spices became one of the most sought-after drinks these past few months.

L — Lockdown

The dreaded word that brought in empty cities between us and pandemic in the early months of the pandemic.

M — Migrant crisis, mental health

The scores of migrants who had to walk back to their town and villages in the harsh weather made headlines. As did the mental health crisis, which became a corollary to the pandemic.

N — New normal

Everyone has been talking about this ‘new normal’, which has changed the way we talk, interact, engage with people, dress up, work, etc. Let’s just say, we need to embrace this ‘new normal’.

O — Online classes

As with everything, schools, colleges and other educational institutions moved their classes online, making children sit in front of a computer screen and virtually-greet their teachers and classmates, instead of in a real classroom.

P — Pandemic, PPE kits

This year, in the pandemic, people learnt about PPE (personal protective equipment) kits for the first time. These two words definitely featured a lot during conversations between people.

Q — Quarantine

Quarantine has become an inevitable part of the pandemic, especially for people who are sick, or are potentially carrying the virus.

R — Recovery

The good news came in snippets when people made recovery from the infection. The bad news was the worst-ever recession that the country found itself in.

S — Social distancing, sanitizer, symptoms

These three words dominated conversations, with people constantly enquiring about their loved ones’ symptoms, if they are using sanitizers, and if they are maintaining social distancing — all of which are important to stay healthy.

T — Travel restrictions

Unfortunately for travellers, there were many restrictions this year — starting with no travel, to travelling with certain limitations in place.

ALSO READ |A quick recap of the year which witnessed the unique ‘flying to nowhere’ trend

U — Unlock

The different phases of unlock came as a breather for the many months spent in lockdown.

V — Virus, vaccine

Is it coming? No, not the virus — that is already here. We mean the vaccine. Safe to say, people have been feverishly searching and reading up about the different stages of the vaccine, and when it will be available in the country.

W — Work from home

The year was almost entirely spent working from home. It took a lot of self-discipline and determination to get into the groove, but now people are starting to feel bored with the drudgery of WFH.

X — Xenophobia

It was unfortunate that some people had to experience xenophobia this year, which came in the form of horrible comments directed at them in the garb of ignorance.

Y — Yoga at home

Many people around the country made better use of their time by doing a few yoga asanas and stretches every day, so as to keep fit and stay healthy.

Z — Zoom meetings

For some people, the incessant virtual meetings have led to a Zoom fatigue. Is this the new normal now?

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