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    10 phrases to banish for good after coronavirus

    9 April 2020

    1. Flattening the curve

    No, it’s not some sort of fat-burning home workout (though these have become extremely popular since the quarantine hit).

    Rather, this is about slowing the spread to reduce the burden on our NHS. A flatter infection curve will save the health service from ruin and mean that, when this thing finally tails off, we can all go out to the pub again and stop worrying about our curves for good. Mine’s a pork pie and a pint.

    2. The Wuhan Shake

    Designed to minimise hand-to-hand contact, these dreadfully awkward gestures have been adopted in business meetings the world over. From serious-looking politicians to sports stars and celebs, everyone’s at it. The problem is, the ‘Elbow Bump’ sounds more like one of those ghastly flash-mob-style dance phenomenons, like the ‘Harlem Shake’. Remember that? Others will simply be grateful that this odd greeting has temporarily replaced the high five (Jeremy Corbyn, I’m looking at you).

    3. The two metre rule

    The introverts’ dream, the extroverts’ nightmare. The two metre rule is all about avoiding fellow humans to reduce the chances of transmission. In reality, it is simply the practice of being perpetually unfriendly to all those around you. Business as usual then, Brits.

    4. Herd immunity

    I really hope this one dies out along with the COVID-19 virus. Are we but cattle? While we could be compared to a group of dopey cows aimlessly wandering around the barren fields of boredom, surely we can do better than this. ‘Collective immunity’ sounds a bit too communist. Let’s go with ‘we win, you lose, COVID. Bye forever.’ Pithy, I know.

    5. Essential items

    Oh the subjectivity of an ‘essential item’! Tea bags? Smoked salmon? A bottle of Malbec? One man’s necessity is another man’s luxury. The Government should think seriously about writing us all a uniform shopping list. Although with BoJo at the helm there’ll be a sudden rush on bottles of Bolly, bleaching kits and British-bred beef burgers.

    6. Stay safe

    This appears to be the current phrase of choice when signing off on a Zoom conference call or wrapping an Insta live broadcast. “Great to chat, guys. Stay safe.” Personally, I think we should emulate the blond scruffy one and start going the whole hog, ending every single phone conversation, text message or FaceTime with the government-sanctioned instructions: ‘Stay home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.’ Let’s develop a salute too (one that avoids touching your face, of course).

    7. Furloughed

    With the coronavirus shuttering almost all the businesses in the country, many employees are temporarily off work with no pay. What are they? ‘Furloughed’. Fur-what now? That’s right. The medieval term ‘furloughed’ has wiggled its way back into 21st Century jargon, and we’re not too sure what we think about it. Basically, it is an inexplicably archaic way of telling everyone that the Government has nationalised wages and we can all watch Netflix on BoJo’s dime. Hooray.

    8. Panic buying

    The universal euphemism for buying 18 packs of loo roll and getting it through the self-checkout before anyone can object. In reality, this locust-like stripping of supermarket shelves is a stark demonstration of our extraordinary capacity for selfishness during times of international crisis. Let’s hope we quickly forget the horrid scenes of punches being thrown over the last bottle of hand sanitiser. Alternative phrase idea: ‘stockpiling syndrome’.

    9. Underlying health condition

    The phrase that allows us to keep an emotional distance from those who are seriously ill and dying, and allows young, fit and healthy people to continue their very important work of hanging out together in parks. Twitter has rightly dubbed these ignorant individuals ‘#COVIDIDIOTS’. Excellent.

    10. Pangolin

    The prehistoric-looking bastard that started it all.

    So get smart and learn your lingo, even if it pains you to do so. Because hopefully, when this thing finally blows over, we will be able to lay these dreadful phrases to rest, once and for all.