Babylon COVIDictionary

This article was last reviewed and updated on April 28, 2021.

Analogies are a great way to explain unfamiliar or complex words and phrases by likening them to common things. Since COVID-19 is all over the news and social media, we thought we’d create the COVID-ictionary, a dictionary that uses analogies to demystify words and phrases associated with coronavirus.

So now you’ll better understand how a virus (like a matchstick) can cause a pandemic (a wildfire).


Disease reservoir: It’s like a reservoir of water.

Like water being stored in a reservoir, a disease reservoir refers to somewhere that infectious agents can survive, other than inside humans. This can be in animals or the environment.

Incubation period: It’s like the calm before a storm.

This is the period of time between being exposed to an infectious disease and developing symptoms. Disease can be spread during the incubation period.

Social distancing: It’s like removing a domino from a chain of dominoes.

One domino can stop a chain from collapsing. Think of yourself as a domino. By working from home and staying clear of schools and gatherings of people (small or large), you’re removing yourself from a chain of dominoes — slowing the spread of the virus.

Self-isolation: It’s like enjoying a lot of "me-time" but also doing the right thing.

You stay inside your own home and avoid contact with other people, including those you live with (where possible), to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Transmission: It’s like a game of tag.

Especially within six feet, this is how the virus spreads. Stay six feet apart to prevent spread.

Viral load: It’s like counting the number of enemy soldiers that have breached your frontline.

The viruses are enemy soldiers, and the viral load is a measure of how many or how few enemy soldiers are present in your body when you’re infected.