lockdown lexicon | 

The A to Zoom of 2020's pandemic lingo

Rita Ora

Roisin Gorman

Covid may have robbed us of a year but at least it gave us a new language.

This time last year no one had heard of Wuhan and nothing would ever shut the pubs.

A few short months – which feel like a lifetime – later our lives and lexicon have changed beyond recognition and going to the pub is like the new extreme sport.

In the spirit of Christmas and gifts, but maybe not forgiveness, let’s celebrate the new language of living.

Lockdown: is it a wrestling term or maybe an S&M thing? We’re now so used to lockdowns we have to distinguish between them. There’s the one where the weather was good and everyone made bread and grew plants and drank outside, the one that wasn’t really a lockdown because all the shops were still open, and this one. But January is all about misery anyway, just don’t tell anyone to go vegan or give up booze because now is not the time.

Circuit breaker: like a lockdown but where the DUP still want the shops open. It didn’t work.

Doing a Bobby: like a lockdown but where the Shinners still get to invite 2,000 people to Bobby Storey’s funeral. Then Michelle O’Neill refuses to say sorry and claims she’s always stuck to the science. It didn’t work either.

New normal: as if life isn’t bad enough this came along as the most annoying phrase of 2020. If it’s normal, then it’s not new. And some of us want normal normal back.

Social distancing: it used to mean being a bit unfriendly. Now it’s a life-saving technique, which also covers up that you’re a bit unfriendly.

Covidiot: a strong contender behind ‘new normal’ for causing intense irritation. This term covers anyone who says ‘it’s just like a flu’ despite the mounting body count, or who struggles to stay two metres away or who believes wearing a mask is the absolute worst human rights infringement in the history of the world.

Plandemic: likely to be used by people who believe every conspiracy theory going who are just having a field day at the moment. It’s hard to reconcile how governments which couldn’t organise a track and trace system, PPE supplies, or a pee behind a bush could simultaneously arrange a pandemic, or maybe that’s what they want you to think. Oh my God it’s catching, just like the virus.

Miley Cyrus: rhyming slang for coronavirus, but this time she keeps her clothes on.

Doomscrolling: that thing we all did at the start of the pandemic, searching out every bit of depressing news until all happiness evaporated.

Infodemic: this is what happens when you doomscroll and your brain becomes overloaded with information and half of it’s made up.

R numbers: the rate at which the virus spreads, which should ideally be below one, randomly thrown about by people who struggle with long division but suddenly know the language of the epidemiologist.

Track and trace: also known as not track and don’t trace because it’s proved to be in the chocolate fireguard category of efficiency.

Wet pub: another terrible expression which used to mean a pub. Now it’s a pub that only serves booze, or in 2020 doesn’t serve any booze.

Substantial meal: the only way to get a drink in a pub that serves food, which came with much debate, a time limit and in Ireland a price tag. It turns out it’s not a bowl of chips, a small salad or a Scotch egg, and anyone who’s prepared to argue otherwise needs to examine why they want a drink so badly they’re arguing about chips.

Ghost kitchen: a professional kitchen which has only been used for take away because actual people aren’t allowed on the premises. They long for the good old days when customers argued about chips.

Tiers: the act of taking an already confusing situation and making it a complete head melter. People who live in low tier areas are the new royalty, flaunting their pints and their restaurant dinners and their open shops. Rita Ora flaunted the tier rules with her impromptu birthday party which suggests she struggles to count to three.

Zoom: the new work for previously office-based employees, whose homes are now endlessly scrutinised during meetings. I mean who picked those curtains and there’s no way he’s read all those books.

Masks: these used to be clay-based or fabric and reserved solely for a bit of skincare. Now you can’t go near a shop without a mask and unless you have a serious health complaint just wear one and reserve all those thoughts about restricting your oxygen supply for the other mad people who’ll believe anything.

Quarantini: actor Stanley Tucci impressed his fans with his lockdown Negroni skills but a quarantini is made from anything you have in the house so vodka and cough medicine qualifies, probably just what the doctor ordered.

Smize: when you have to smile with your eyes because the mask is covering the rest of your face. Wearing lippy is now so 2019 it’s like wearing trousers during a Zoom meeting.

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