COVID-19 Outbreak: The Coronavirus Terminology

The Coronavirus Terminology

The past few weeks have been challenging to everyone worldwide, on every level. On the linguistic level, the demand for information and communication regarding the pandemic has been constant and urgent. As a result, daily updates and recommendations must be released, as the terminology of coronavirus is defined.

In order to help with Medical and Healthcare terminology, we have compiled some information on terms related to the COVID-19.

coronavirus (noun):

  • Definition: It’s the common term to refer to any virus of the Coronaviridae family.
  • Recommended spelling: Written in a single word, without a hyphen or space between and with a lowercase initial. It varies in its plural form: coronaviruses.

COVID-19 (noun):

  • Definition: From COVID (Blend of coronavirus + ‎disease) and the year 2019.  It’s an acute, sometimes fatal, viral disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.
  • Recommended spelling: The name of the disease is COVID-19, written in capital letters and with a hyphen before the double digits, according to the guidelines from the WHO (World Health Organization). However, when lexicalizing this name in a general text using lowercase, the recommendation is not to leave the initial capital letter, since it’s a common name of a disease; it’s covid-19, not Covid-19. 
  • Other designations:
    1. 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (former designation, noun).
    2. 2019-nCoV ARD (former designation, noun)

SARS-CoV-2 (noun):

  • Definition: It’s the official identification of the virus causing the COVID-19, according to the International Committee for the Taxonomy of Viruses . However, people still frequently use the provisional name 2019-nCoV.
  • Recommended spelling: The name of the virus is SARS-CoV-2, which refers to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome CoronaVirus 2.
  • Other designations:
    1. 2019-nCoV (former designation, noun).

Epidemic (noun):

  • Definition: It’s the occurrence of a higher number of disease cases than expected in a given area over a specific period of time.

Pandemic (noun):

  • Definition: An epidemic which occurs worldwide or over a very wide area, crossing international borders. It usually affects a large number of people.


  • Definitions:
    1. (noun) It’s a measure to which people or animals are subjected to for a period of time, for health reasons. It consists in separating those who have been exposed to a disease from others during the said disease’s incubation period, in order to prevent the spread of a disease. 
    2. (verb) To put (a person or an animal) in quarantine.

Isolation (noun):

  • Definition: A measure to prevent the spread of a disease. It consists in the complete separation of the infected person or animal from others.

Incubation (noun):

  • Definition: It’s the process or period of time in which harmful bacteria or viruses increase in size or number in a person’s or animal’s body, but do not yet produce the effects of disease.


If you need linguistic assistance in regards to COVID-19 (information, communication, etc), contact us for special quotes and urgency on your requests!





2015, «World Health Organization Best Practices for the Naming of New Human Infectious Diseases», in WHO/HSE/FOS/15.1.

2020, Translation Bureau of the Government of Canada, “Glossary on the COVID-19 pandemic”, in TERMIUM Plus® (access: 20/3/2020).

2020, Fundéu (Fundación Instituto Internacional de la Lengua Española), access: 20/3/2020.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!


Life Sciences


linguistic validation

Linguistic Validation Explained

As its name suggests, linguistic validation is a process used to ensure the translated content of Clinical outcome assessments (COAs), and especially patient-reported outcomes (PROs),

Read more »

COVID-19 Outbreak: The Coronavirus Terminology

The Coronavirus Terminology