The term was first used in February 2020 by the World Health Organization to refer to (mostly false) information about the COVID-19 outbreak.
Also, a couple of neologisms were coined as a reaction to people’s behaviour in the face of the outbreak. Here, we find “covidiot”. According to the Urban dictionary, it covers two sides of stupid and selfish behaviour:
1. A stupid person who stubbornly ignores 'social distancing' protocol, thus helping to further spread COVID-19.
While covidiot is just not thinking properly, “covillain” implies a higher degree of maliciousness:
1. A person who posts, publishes or spreads false news or information and contributes to the Infodemic, as this is a crime that causes the death of many people.
Besides, some existing but not too widely spread words have had an enormous boost in usage. Such is the case with the concept of “social distancing” –with first known use in 2003– and the word “quarantine”, that dates back to at least 1617:
The English word quarantine comes from the Italian quarantina, a period of forty days, and originally from the Latin quadrāgintā, meaning “forty”. Historically, it goes back to the practice of imposing a forty days quarantine upon ships that entered the port of Venice during the plague that started at the turn of 1347-1348. Nowadays, we hardly associate quarantine with a precise period of 40 days and everyone seems to wonder how long will last the one that has lately become our new way of life.
About the author
Translator and linguist intrigued by the theory and puzzles of translation.