Oxford English Dictionary adds new terms to COVID-19

Oxford English Dictionary adds new terms to COVID-19

After the coronavirus outbreak, the Oxford English Dictionary has introduced a raft of new words coined like "social distancing" and "flatten the curve."

In a "major update" to the Oxford English Dictionary prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, self-isolate and elbow bump feature

The dictionary also introduced a list of different words and terms, including social distancing, infodemic and "to flatten the curve" that have been used since the epidemic.

The dictionary normally publishes four updates a year but in exceptional circumstances, it breaks this cycle.

Self-quarantine, shelter in place, social distancing, PPE or personal protective equipment and WFH or working from home are also included in the list.

COVID-19 appears as the only neologism, or newly coined word.

The others are a combination of words with a wider meaning that are now used to refer more specifically to the pandemic.

Both those words, however, saw what the dictionary calls a "huge increase" in usage during 2020.

Coronavirus does not feature as defined for the first time in 1968 and was included in the 2008 Oxford English Dictionary.

This coined the term infodemic to describe the confusion surrounding the outbreak.

The dictionary's Fiona McPherson said the significant update came outside the usual publication cycle. "But these are extraordinary times, and OED lexicographers are in a unique position to track the development of the language we are using and to present the histories of these words," she said.