Words, words, words


I’m having trouble keeping up these days.

It’s not a physical thing (at least, most of the time); it’s not a mental thing (any more than it always has been); it’s a word thing. I’ve spent my life with words but now I find myself working hard to keep up with all the new ones.

I’ve compiled a few words I’ve had to look up lately in my attempt to stay current with the English language. Here they are:

#N Coronavirus or COVID-19 related words. There’s practically a whole new dictionary related to COVID-19. First of all, why are we supposed to capitalize COVID-19? It’s really awkward looking. It turns out COVID stands for CO (corona) VI (virus) D (disease). You’d think they would have come up with a more exciting name for a virus that has held the entire Earth hostage all this time, but when you let scientists name things it’s bound to come out boring. Things have been changing on the streets: the disease is now often referred to as “The Rona” or “The Vid” in common conversation, although maybe not so commonly in Troy, Ohio. Maybe it will catch on.

Then you have the abbreviations related to The Vid (did you catch that? I used a new word). WFH: Working from Home. PPE: Personal Protective Equipment. WHO: World Health Organization. This is an old one but we never paid any attention to the WHO before. Well, maybe we still don’t. I would guess more people in the world trust Dr. Who than the WHO.

You also have “long haulers,” which sounds like truck drivers but really refers to people who suffer from long-term effects brought on by overcapitalized diseases, such as COVID-19.

The disease also has brought to light certain medical terms. You might have delayed finding out about having COVID-19 because of your iatrophobia, or fear of doctors. You might have made things worse because of your nasocomephobia, fear of hospitals. You might not be able to read this column today because of your tomophobia, or fear of surgery.

#N I admit I am having trouble keeping all the modern sexual preferences straight … oops, maybe I should say keeping them in line. I recently had to find out about nonbinary, which I remember from high school had something to do with numbers that weren’t in Base 2. These days, it means “identifying with a gender identity that is neither entirely male or female.” Then I stumbled across the word “Sapiosexual,” which sounds a little ominous. But, no, it simply means romantic attraction to someone who is highly intelligent. Needless to say, I never have heard it used in reference to me.

#N I have discovered I am the victim of microtargeting. These are tailored messages that show up on my computer based on information websites have stolen from me and sold – so, say I look up the price of a pair of Pumas on line and suddenly I am inundated with ads about tennis shoes. It’s a little scary, actually.

#This one is my favorite: Fatbergs. Fatbergs are giant blobs of fat, oil and grease (called FOG, which is another new word for me) that congeal around non-biodegradable items such as wet wipes. They can grow to immense size (one in England was estimated at 400 tons) and wreak havoc on sewer systems. The word is a combination of “Fat” and “Iceberg.”

# Slow-walk. This pretty much applies to governments in general: “to delay or prevent progress by acting in a deliberately slow manner.”

#N A new use for the word “haircut”. It has nothing to do with a barber, but refers to a reduction in the value of an asset, as in what happens to your cruise ship stocks when a world-wide epidemic hits.

I have more, but I’m out of space. I suggest you do a little research on your own – and by all means, watch out for those fatbergs.

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