Corona: apart from being part of a deadly virus, it can be a halo of gasses around the sun, it can be a beer, it can even be part of a penis; it can be a great many improbable things. The word had permeated our world long before the virus did, and usually with less apocalyptic results.
The word corona gives us the word crown, and so coronet too. The sticky-uppy bits on the surface of the virus look to the chemical imagination of the scientists who named them, like a crown. To the rest of us, they look like comically distended suckers, or floppy golf tees, or alien antennae — they make those virions look like psychopathically ecstatic jelly balls. They are just revolting but that’s not scientific. No, we are supposed to see prongs, the prongs on royal headgear — now, that’s scientific.
The prongs/suckers are apparently composed of proteins that help the virus force entry into our own entirely innocent cells — appendages on a microscopic Harvey Weinstein, apparently, and thereby another association with penis.
Corona comes from the Latin word corona, and even deeper, from the Greek korṓnē — hence coronation, and by extension a piquant chicken dish.
The word gives us a large stone, the Stone of Scone (by its other name, the Coronation Stone) on which the kings and queens of these isles have been crowned for centuries.
Quite improbably, it gives us coroner, guardian of the pleas of the crown, the examiner of death.
Corona can give us a heart attack, a coronary, named for the crown of tubes on our pumps.
Corona gives us stars, those constellations that halo the top and the bottom of the world, Corona Borealis and Corona Australis.
Corona gives us architectural features, in the cornice (part of the top bit), and the east end of Canterbury Cathedral (all of it).
It gives us scores of songs, multitudes of musicians, it gives us footballers and towns, a soft drink, a typewriter, novels, games, and completely unreal people and places in novels and games.
It gives us coronal bone, which for some will evoke boner, and takes us back to willies. Let’s not forget, it also gives us a cigar, and the overlap with anatomical meaning may explain some of the eccentric behaviour between a certain president of the United States and an intern.
Corona does not give us coronach, which is from an entirely different root, one that is banned in the current lockdown: it is from Scottish Gaelic, comh, ‘together’ plus rànach,‘outcry’. Though coronach itself has a poignant applicability to coronavirus, being a funeral song.
Virus, on the other hand, gives us little other than itself and a host of debilitating symptoms; a rash of fear and an outbreak of paranoia. It’s a word that mostly does what it says on the box. And if you didn’t already know, it comes from the Latin for slimy, liquid poison, and as a name is probably better suited to Corona’s beer. In Middle English virus had a fleeting moment of cool when it became associated with the venom of snakes, but it quickly went back to its association with puddles of goo.
But what part of a willy is the corona you are probably not dying to know? It’s the — well, Google it, but not at work. Though you’re probably not at work because of the contagion. But the association with penis is highly appropriate because most thoughtful people look on coronavirus as a massive bellend.