Why is it called a coronavirus?

Musing about coronas

I am settling into social isolation along with the rest of Australia and the world. I am lucky to have had work to keep me busy. But now it is Friday afternoon I can put my feet up with a cigar and a beer and watch the sun set while musing on our Covid-19 coronavirus futures.

Unlike supposedly 38% of Americans (not true) I am not afraid of drinking a Corona (beer from Mexico) with my Corona (cigar from Cuba). Note that these brands took their name from the Spanish word, corona, the Spanish word for crown (and the brand identity of each).

Word origin of corona

English also has the word corona and it has identical ancestry. It comes from the Latin, corona, which meant a crown or garland. However, corona is not used as a synonym for crown much any more in English.

Coronas are everywhere in English

Corona, in English has moved on—it now refers to the halo of light around the sun or the moon (obvious during a lunar eclipse). But corona’s crown history has stayed with us. It is embedded in coronary, meaning resembling a crown, coronet, a small inferior crown. A coroner is an officer of the Crown; and, of course, coronation, a crowning ceremony.

Imbibing and inhaling Coronas as alcohol and tobacco are pleasurable things. However, too much of them at my age might bring on a coronary, which is short for a coronary thrombosis, a form of heart attack. Coronary heart disease refers to the disease of the coronary blood vessels that provide oxygen to the heart. They are so-called because they surround the heart like a corona.

In astronomy we have two crown constellations. There is our own Corona Australis in the south and the northern one the Corona Borealis (in Latin australis means of the south and borealis of the north).

So, how did coronavirus get its name?

You might have guessed by now that the spherical virus has a crown or halo-like appearance. Coronviruses, when seen under a powerful microscope, are covered in spikes terminating in small bulbs (or more technically-speaking … club-shaped glycoprotein projections).

Stay well out there and only go near the pleasure-giving coronas.