New Word List | April 2020

As the heat of coronavirus pandemic continues, new words are being added to world renowned dictionaries like Oxford  English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Below are entirely new headword entries appearing in both dictionaries for the first time.

New word entries


  • Covid-19, (noun): “An acute respiratory illness in humans caused by a coronavirus, which is capable of producing severe symptoms and death, esp. in the elderly and others with underlying health conditions.”


  • infodemic, (noun): “A proliferation of diverse, often unsubstantiated information relating to a crisis, controversy, or event, which disseminates rapidly and uncontrollably through news, online, and social media, and is regarded as intensifying public speculation or anxiety.”


  • Physical distancing, (noun): the practice of maintaining a greater than usual physical space between oneself and other people or of avoiding direct contact with people or objects in public places during the outbreak of a contagious disease in order to minimize exposure and reduce the transmission of infection.


  • Contactless, (adjective): not involving contact. Similarly, both the physical and technological meanings of contactless are being used much more frequently.


  • WFH, (abbreviation): an abbreviation for “working from home.”


  • PPE, (abbreviation): an abbreviation for “personal protective equipment.”


  • Forehead thermometer, (noun): a thermometer that is placed on, passed over, or pointed at the forehead to measure a person’s body temperature.


  • Intensivist, (noun): a physician who specializes in the care and treatment of patients in intensive care.


  • Epidemic curve, (noun): a visual representation in the form of a graph or chart depicting the onset and progression of an outbreak of disease and especially infectious disease in a particular population.


  • Immune surveillance, (noun): any monitoring process of the immune system that detects and destroys foreign substances, cells, or tissues.


  • Community immunity and herd immunity, (noun): a reduction in the risk of infection with a specific communicable disease (such as measles or influenza) that occurs when a significant proportion of the population has become immune to infection (as because of previous exposure or vaccination) so that susceptible individuals are much less likely to come in contact with infected individuals


  • R0, (noun): “The average number of cases of an infectious disease arising by transmission from a single infected individual, in a population that has not…”


  • self-isolate, (verb): “intransitive and transitive (reflexive). To isolate oneself from others deliberately; (now) esp. to undertake self-imposed isolation for a period of…”


  • self-isolated, (adjective): “Of a person or group: that has undertaken self-imposed isolation for a period of time, typically at home, in order to avoid catching or transmitting…”


  • self-isolating, (adjective): “That adheres to or promotes self-isolation; (of a person, group, or population) undertaking self-imposed isolation for a period of time, now esp. in…”


  • self-isolation, (noun): “The action, fact, or process of deliberately isolating oneself; an instance of this. Now esp.: self-imposed isolation undertaken in order to avoid…”


  • self-quarantine, (noun): “Self-imposed isolation undertaken in order to avoid catching or transmitting an infectious disease, or as part of a community initiative to inhibit…”


  • self-quarantine, (verb): “intransitive and transitive (reflexive). To undertake self-imposed isolation in order to avoid catching or transmitting an infectious disease, or as…”


  • self-quarantined, (adjective): “Of a person or group: that has undertaken self-imposed isolation in order to avoid catching or transmitting an infectious disease, or as part of a…”


  • shelter in place, (noun): “A public safety protocol invoked during an emergency in which there is an imminent threat to life or health, instructing people to find a place of…” plus one more sense…


  • shelter in place, (verb): “intransitive. Originally during an emergency in which there is imminent threat to life: to find a place of safety in one’s present location or…”


  • social distancing, (noun): “The action of practice of maintaining a specified physical distance from other people, or of limiting access to and contact between people (esp…” plus one more sense…


  • social isolation, (noun): “The state of having little or no contact with other people; (now) esp. a condition in which an individual lacks social connections or has no access…”


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