Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Covid-19: Know your Lockdown Lexicon

Words that became a part of our vocabulary in 2020, many of which hopefully will exit the lexicon in the New Year--or at least in 2022, or maybe a year later, or...

Published: Jan 4, 2021 04:50:44 PM IST
Updated: Jan 4, 2021 04:54:47 PM IST

Covid-19: Know your Lockdown LexiconIllustrations: Chaitanya Dinesh Surpur

Unprecedented: Yes, we never saw anything like this before. But then soon everything started to assume unprecedented hues: The lockdowns, the economic contraction, stock prices (when they crashed as well as when they shot up to heady levels), salary cuts, job losses… suffice it to say the usage of the word has been doubtless unprecedented.

New Normal: Ten months on, this chestnut has truly taken on cringeworthy proportions; so much so that an awkward silence greets any team member who drops the bombshell on a call.

Resilience: When one company displayed it—a dogged recovery in the face of considerable stress—you sat up and took notice. When another showed similar attributes, you nodded sagely. By the time the 55th, 56th and 57th firms shot out press releases with the word liberally peppered all over, that’s the moment you may have forgotten its original meaning.

Digital Transformation: This yesterday’s favourite was on the verge of being consigned to the graveyard of the trite, before the lockdown gave it a new lease of banality. Suddenly, everything and everyone was digital—classrooms, gyms, doctors, teachers, colleagues, lunch, the neighbourhood hairdresser… we’ve all been altered.

Webinar: Yes, you shouldn’t mock revenue streams that feed you, but they were everywhere, on virtually every topic under the sun—our inboxes are still flooded with invites for webinars on warehouse regulations, vendor management, improving purchasing negotiation skills, how to develop export culture in an organisation, employee retention techniques...

WFH: You were digitally transformed from home by webinars, Zoom calls and Google Meets, among sundry other platforms. After working for 10 months out of your bedroom, the unthinkable may be happening: You’re consumed by an almost unbearable longing for your office workstation.

Let’s Zoom: Can only be rivalled by the equally-winceworthy ‘I’ll Zoom you’. Perhaps it’s time for ‘Zoom fatigue’ to enter the Covid book of clichés.

Staycation/Workation: A year ago, such words would be considered conjoined bundles of contradictions. Put your hand on your heart, and answer: Is it really possible to work when either the hills or the rivers or the beaches—with beer-laden and seafood-stacked shacks—are just a stumble away?

V-shaped Recovery: If there is a preferred route out of the economic trough, it is the shape of V, but of course it’s not the easiest. Which is why you can trust a few economists—and more than a few wannabe ones—to venture out with their forecast for a recovery by picking up a letter from the alphabet soup. So we’ve had W (more likely than desirable), U (slower than V), L (long and painful), and even a K shape (in which the have-a-lot get separated from the have-nots). And the diehard doomsayers (and Zoomsayers) will mutter about an O-shaped ‘recovery’—where a fresh wave of Covid-19 undoes all the ground reclaimed so far.

Jab: Blame this on headline writers looking for the shortest word for vaccine, vaccinate, vaccination, inoculation and other variants. Perhaps the deluge of jabs began with the sports hack who doubled up on the health pages right after subbing a boxing copy.

Post-Covid World: As of today, it’s a bit like the Pearly Gates: You won’t enter them tomorrow (or ever), but it’s difficult not to fantasise about them.

(This story appears in the 15 January, 2021 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)