Last year saw a lot of new Japanese terminology pop up in conversations about the 新型コロナウイルス (shingata koronauirusu, novel coronavirus). Below are a few examples of what has been seen in headlines during the first three months of 2021:

  • 下げ止まり (sagedomari): A compound verb of 下がる (sagaru, to fall) and 止まる (tomaru, to stop), meaning something that has been decreasing has come to a halt. You’ll hear the media use 下げ止まり to describe the stagnation of coronavirus cases. Ex.: 首都圏4都県では感染者数の減少ペースが下げ止まっている (Shuto yon-todōfuken de wa kansenshasū no genshō pēsu ga sagedomatte-iru, The number of coronavirus infections has bottomed out in four prefectures and in [the Tokyo] metropolitan area).
  • アフター・コロナ (afutā korona): While ウィズ・コロナ (wizu korona, with coronavirus) was used frequently last year to describe life during the pandemic, アフター・コロナ refers to a time “after coronavirus” when we’ve all hopefully had our vaccinations. Ex.: アフター・コロナに備え、貯金を始めた (Afutā korona ni sonae, chokin o hajimeta, In preparing for the post-COVID era, I’ve started to save money).
  • リバウンド (ribaundo): Taken from the English “rebound,” this word is often used with regard to regaining weight after a diet. These days, however, it’s being used to suggest the risk of a resurgence in infections. Ex.: コロナウイルスの感染状況は下げ止まりどころか、リバウンドの可能性もある (Koronauirusu no kansen jōkyō wa sagedomari dokoro ka, ribaundo no kanōsei mo aru, The situation of infections has come to a halt, but a rebound is possible).
  • 二重マスク (nijū masuku): As the kanji suggests, this term refers to the wearing of two face masks for better protection from the coronavirus’ variants. Ex.: 二重マスクをする人が増えている (Nijū masuku o suru hito ga fuete-iru, More and more people are wearing two masks).
  • 辞退ドミノ (jitai domino): This term brings together 辞退 (jitai, refusal/ pulling out [of a race]) with ドミノ (domino), which refers to the English idea of a “domino effect” (when one event initiates a succession of similar events). After Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori’s sexist remarks, a number of torch bearers declared they would withdraw from participating in the torch run. Some, however, withdrew due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19. Ex.: 聖火ランナーの辞退ドミノが止まらない (Seika rannā no jitai domino ga tomaranai, The withdrawal of torch runners doesn’t seem to be stopping).

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.