PHILADELPHIA — Newscasts bring word of “hot zones” and “lockdowns.” Conversations are littered with talk of “quarantines” and “isolation.” Leaders urge “social distancing” and “sheltering in place” and “flattening the curve.” In an instant, our vocabulary has changed — just like everything else. It seems like just days since people were looking up “caucus” for clarity on the American political process or “acquit” to decode the Senate’s verdict in President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Now, those turning to online dictionaries are parsing the difference between epidemics and pandemics, ventilators and respirators, seeking some black-and-white answers in the face of total uncertainty. “Words matter,” says John Kelly, a senior research editor at Dictionary.com. “They provide comfort and order amid chaos. They provide solidarity in an age of social distancing.” A look at the fast-evolving lexicon of the coronavirus pandemic: WARTIME METAPHORS Trump, who spent weeks brushing off the severity of the crisis, is now touting himself as “a wartime president” leading the fight against the virus. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is equating ventilators to “missiles” in the battle. French President Emmanuel Macron has bluntly declared: “We are at war.” Around the world, words typically used in relation to nuclear fallout, active


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