‘Covidiot’, ‘dalgona’ among words B'luru learnt

‘Covidiot’, ‘dalgona’ among newwords Bengaluru learnt this year

The pandemic has brought into use terms we didn’t know in 2019. Metrolife brings you a quick list

Illustration: Prakash S

Two dictionaries — Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster — have chosen ‘pandemic’ as their ‘word of the year’.

Hardly surprising, since the word has dominated conversations across platforms since March.

The Oxford English Dictionary, on the other hand, put out a list of ‘Words of an Unprecedented Year’ to reflect its “ethos, mood, or preoccupations”.

Words such as ‘Covid-19’, ‘WFH’, ‘lockdown’ have made it to the list.  ‘Karen’, ‘bushfires’, ‘furlough’, ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘moonshot’ also featured on the list.

Anugraha Jose, assistant professor, Indian Institute of Psychology & Research, Bengaluru, says the year is going to be known as ‘corona year’ forever.

As an educator, she saw students and teachers get familiar with words like ‘login’, ‘logout’, ‘spotlight’ and ‘online classes.’

Etienne Rassendren, retired associate professor of English at St Joseph’s College, says the language of the future will inevitably be shaped by our experience of this year.

Metrolife spoke to people in Bengaluru, and asked which new words entered their vocabulary. Here are some they listed:


Someone who ignores public health guidelines.

Usage: My neighbour is a covidiot; she keeps stepping out without a mask.


A group that either quarantines together or forms a close-knit social circle.

Usage: My quaranteam was my best friend, my roommate, and her siblings. 


An alcoholic beverage usually made from whatever ingredients are available at home.

Usage: My signature quarantini was rum, cranberry juice and tonic water. 


A popular trend during the lockdown was making this milky coffee. ‘Dalgona’ in Korean means ‘honeycomb toffee’; it is made by whipping instant coffee, sugar, and hot water.

Usage: I am ashamed to say I fell into the Instagram trap and made dalgona coffee. I hated it.


The tendency to scroll through social media and news apps for updates about a catastrophe.

Usage: I fall into morbid rabbit holes, thanks to doomscrolling every night. 


Workers who provide an essential service and can’t work from home.

Usage: We can never thank frontliners enough for keeping us safe during the lockdown.


A portmanteau of ‘information’ and ‘epidemic’ that refers to a rapid spread of both accurate and inaccurate information about something.

Usage: The discovery of Covid-19 almost immediately led to an infodemic on social media.


A state of isolation or restricted access put in place as a security measure.

Usage: PM Narendra Modi announced a nationwide lockdown on March 22.


One covering the face shames those wearing a mask.

Usage: I feel the itch to mask-shame a few covidiots whenever I step out.

Patient zero

The first carrier of a communicable disease in an outbreak.

Usage: India’s patient zero was a student who returned to Kerala from the Wuhan Institute of Medical Sciences.


Acronym for Personal Protective Equipment. It is used to protect the wearer against infection.

Usage: Healthcare and other frontline workers struggled as PPE kits were in
short supply during the lockdown.

Second wave

A rise in infections following an initial decline. 

Usage: Everyone is wondering whether the vaccine will come before the second wave.

Social distancing

Keeping a safe distance of at least six feet between yourself and others not living in the same household.

Usage: With restaurants and pubs opening, social distancing has become a thing of the past. 

New normal

The state to which society settles following a crisis.

Usage: If one more person tells me that not having holidays is the new normal, I’m going to lose it.


Acronym for work from home. 

Usage: With WFH, my dream of wearing pyjamas and staying in bed all day has finally come true.


A working vacation, where people combine work and vacation.

Usage: After the lockdown, I booked myself into a resort outside Bengaluru for a workcation. 

Zoom fatigue

Exhaustion caused by having to be present on video-conferencing apps all the time.

Usage: I don’t know what hurts more---my back, my eyes, or my cheeks from having to smile all the time. Must be the Zoom fatigue.


Unwanted, intrusive Internet trolls on a conference call.

Usage: I was thoroughly enjoying a standup show, but the experience was ruined thanks to a jerk who Zoombombed the session. 


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