Coronavirus has been all over the news recently, but what does the word mean? The origin is well documented: the term was first used in a 1968 edition of Nature magazine, where a team of eight microbiologists suggested that the family of diseases "be called the coronaviruses, to recall the characteristic appearance [sc. recalling the solar corona] by which these viruses are identified". Corona is the Latin word for "crown" (we can recognize this in words like coronation, coronary, and Corona beer); through Ancient Greek korone, that ultimately traces to Proto-Indo-European sker, meaning "turn" or "bend". The official name for the disease, Covid-19, is an abbreviation for Coronavirus Disease 2019, the year when the pandemic started, and the official name for the pathogen itself is SARS-CoV-2, for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.