Just when you think the English language has thought of it all, a global pandemic hits and leaves us… speechless. Well, most of us. The copywriters, the journalists, the content creators — they’re still tasked with interpreting the world for all of humanity. From “coronavirus” itself to “PPE” to “social distancing,” new words and phrases have vaulted into our everyday use, becoming part of the mainstream lexicon and a steady ingredient in our fortified daily media diet.

These creative terms and turns of phrase surprise and delight us when we see them because they perfectly describe something we all feel. They also help us create better content because content is communication and finding clear and/or clever ways to do it is at the heart of what brands do. It’s also something for content creators to be concerned with as they meet the moment with cultural sensitivity and compassion in a period of constant, awe-inspiring change.

Having just passed the six-month mark since our lives were turned upside down, I thought now would be a good time to round up some of new contributions to our everyday language that might define the era when we look back years from now. Terms born from germs that went viral as writers and amateurs did their best to define new phenomena, surreal situations and things previously not of this world.

These words have helped people and brands make sense of a time that is hard to make sense of. They’ve become everything from hashtags to memes to flashpoints for connecting people at a time when advertising is concerned with safety, much like the population that is consuming it — a steady, constant reminder that we’re all in this together.

So, in the spirit of togetherness…

10 new words born during the coronavirus pandemic

[Please note:  These definitions are my own and do not represent anyone or anything outside my brain.]

New words born during the coronavirus pandemic: Quarantimes

1. Quarantimes (noun)

The period of time beginning March 2020, which encompasses everything from quarantine to stay-at-home orders, where the conventional definition of time has taken on something akin to a Salvador Dali clock.

Usage in a sentence:

When you wake up on Monday and think it’s a Friday… that’s a sign of the quarantimes.

2. Quarantini (noun)

Literally any drink that gets you through the lockdown by mixing one-part alcohol and two parts anything else, often consumed during “locktail hour.”

Usage in a sentence:

To tee up their night of quarantine and chill, his bae whipped up a set of quarantinis to properly set the mood.

3. Zoombombing (verb)

The act of crashing a Zoom session you were not invited to by doing something rude or potentially unwelcome by the video-conference attendees.

Usage in a sentence: 

She was about to give her presentation when someone Zoombombed the meeting eating Doritos unmuted in a crunchy orange square filled with Cheeto-dust. 

New words born during the coronavirus pandemic: Anti-buddies

4. Anti-buddies (noun)

Two people who feel safer hanging out together because they’ve both tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies, which may or may not mean anything depending on the news you subscribe to.

Usage in a sentence:

The antibuddies decided to start dating because they figured they had less chance of contracting the coronavirus.

5. Maskne (noun)

A rare, unfortunate acne breakout that can occur underneath a tight-fitting mask (or often multiple masks) causing itchy discomfort. A red badge of courage of sorts for front-line workers.

Usage in a sentence:

In the interest of saving lives, the health-care worker wore their N95 mask all day over a 3-ply and hence, developed a mild case of maskne.

6. Quaranteams (noun)

Not to be confused with quarantimes, quaranteams are created when COVID-free neighbors or family members team up to create “pods” with others in hopes of creating responsible companionship.

Usage in a sentence: 

Every Sunday evening, the Katz crew hosted an outdoor movie night with their quaranteam.

New words born during the coronavirus pandemic: Coronacation

7. Coronacation (noun)

Having large, unwanted pockets of time at home due to stay-at-home orders or by being paid not to come into work. A forced staycation, if you will.

Usage in a sentence: 

He had a greater understanding of house arrest after his lengthy coronacation.

8. Elbow-bump (noun or verb)

Known as the new high-five, bumping elbows is now an acceptable form of greeting when you see a friend or family member in lieu of hugs, handshakes or traditional palm-slapping.

Usage in a sentence: 

They gave each other a quick elbow-bump before sitting down for a socially distanced coffee in the courtyard.

9. Virtual happy hour (noun)

The process of having drinks with co-workers over Zoom in lieu of an in-person happy hour, otherwise known as drinking alone(ish).

Usage in a sentence: 

When the team met up for a Zoom virtual happy hour, Taylor got virtually sloshed and started typing random things in the chat feature.

New words born during the coronavirus pandemic: Super-spreader

10. Super-spreader (noun or adjective)

When a symptomatic or asymptomatic person knowingly or unknowingly puts people at risk for contracting coronavirus by engaging in close proximity with large groups at a time.

Usage in a sentence: 

It seemed tone-deaf for the campaign to host a potential super-spreader event in light of all the COVID-related deaths.

What other new words will be born during the final leg of 2020? Which mash-ups will catch on with content creators… and which will we deign not to say out loud?

We’ll just have to grab a quarantini and see.