noun, plural co·ro·nas, co·ro·nae [kuh-roh-nee]. /kəˈroʊ ni/.
THINK YOU’VE GOT A HANDLE ON THIS US STATE NICKNAME QUIZ?
Words nearby corona
Definition for corona (2 of 2)
BEHIND THE WORD
Where does corona come from?
Flowers and crows, priests and soldiers, suns and moons, kings and queens, lagers and viruses? What could all these disparate things possibly have in common? Well, in one way or another, they are involved in the rich history of the word corona.
Corona entered English around 1555–65. It was borrowed directly from the Latin corōna, meaning “garland, wreath, crown.” Its plural form is corōnae. A verb form of corōna was corōnāre, “to crown, wreathe,” ultimate source of the English coronation, “the act or ceremony of crowning a king, queen, or other sovereign.”
Let’s start with a glimpse into life in ancient Rome. Back then, a corōna served various ceremonial and symbolic functions. People wore corōnae of flowers at festivals, for example, or used them to ornament images of gods. Priests donned corōnae when performing important rituals and sacrifices.
Different types of corōna were used as military decorations honoring various acts of bravery. For instance, the corōna mūrālis, or “walled crown,” was a gold crown fashioned in the shape of battlements and was awarded to a soldier who was the first to enter a besieged town or fortress. One especially high honor was the corōna cīvica (“civic crown”), bestowed on a citizen who saved a fellow citizen’s life. It was also known as corōna querca, or “oak crown,” because it was made with oak leaves. This crown became a symbol for emperors and appeared on coins.
Outside of literal crowns worn on the head, the Latin corōna could be used for various things that resemble crowns in their form, including cornices and the halo around the sun. These applications of corōna informed the earliest uses of the word in English.
The oldest recorded sense of corona in English refers to the projecting, slab-like part of a classical cornice. Next up in English’s record, evidenced around the mid-1600s, is corona meaning “a ring of light, as around the sun or moon”—like a figurative crown atop the head of a celestial body. Today, astronomers specifically use corona for the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere, which is visible during a total solar eclipse.
As we’ve seen, corona comes from the Latin word for “crown.” So does the very word crown!
Much older than corona, crown is found in English around 1125–1175. Crown developed from the Middle English coroune, among other forms, which came from the Anglo-French coroune, in turn from the Latin corona.
Now, the Latin corōna has its own fascinating past. It was borrowed from the ancient Greek korṓnē, a word used for a kind of crow or seabird, as well as for anything curved or hooked, presumably due to the shape of the beak of such birds.
What does the corona in coronavirus mean?
Before 2020, the word corona likely brought to mind for many people Corona, a popular brand of beer made in Mexico. The logo for corona features a gold crown—corona being the Spanish word for “crown,” also from the Latin corōna. The lager-style beer was first brewed in 1925.
Due to the 2020 pandemic, however, corona became widely used as a shortened form for coronavirus, especially COVID-19. Coronavirus refers to a family of viruses that cause respiratory infections. First recorded around 1965–70, the name coronavirus is based on the structure of these viruses.
OK, so far we’ve had some Latin lessons, some history, even a dash of architecture and astronomy—a little pathology can’t hurt.
A virus is an extremely tiny infectious agent made up of an RNA or DNA core, a protein coat, and, in some species, an envelope. Coronaviruses contain RNA and are spherical in form. They have an envelope from which project club-like spikes all over its surface. When they discovered the virus group in the 1960s, scientists originally thought the array of these spikes resembled the solar corona, and so named this family of viruses coronavirus.
Did you know ... ?
There are a number of other English words that ultimately come from or are related to the Latin corōna, including coronal, coronary, and coronet. Learn more about their meanings and histories at our entries for the words.
Finally, corolla is a beautiful botanical term—and yes, line of cars—for “the petals of a flower.” It comes from the Latin corolla, “little garland,” a diminutive of corōna. The term corollary is also derived from corolla.
Example sentences from the Web for corona
On stage, and on television, Philippot denounces Macron’s “coronafolie,” or corona madness, and rails against lockdowns and possible vaccination passports.The Vaccine Champions in France Defying Death Threats to Convert Anti-Vaxxers|Vivienne Walt|February 17, 2021|Time
People have to understand that a corona passport is not just for vaccine certification.Why Denmark’s “corona passport” is more of a promise than a plan|Bobbie Johnson|February 10, 2021|MIT Technology Review
Through corona we’ve had this opportunity to use the direct mail business because we’ve been able to reach people where they actually are.With America still on lockdown, publishers lean into direct mail|Max Willens|February 1, 2021|Digiday
“Once corona happened, we took everything we knew and tried to make it work for the diagnosis of corona,” says Assoolin.Want to bring back major sports events and concerts? The answer may lie in a mouthwash test for COVID|David Meyer|November 14, 2020|Fortune
Sometimes things, even sad things, happen for a reason, Corona said.
On one occasion, he opened fire with a rifle on officers in Corona who were tasked with protecting one of his would-be targets.
“I think it is horrible,” said Arthur Corona, the attorney for Michelle Jordan, the nurse.In Los Angeles, Questions of Police Brutality Dog LAPD|Christine Pelisek|November 24, 2012|DAILY BEAST
Aristide offered him a two francs corona which was ceremoniously accepted.The Joyous Adventures of Aristide Pujol|William J. Locke
The 'Corona' was designed and built by Peed of Oulton, who had built several fast-sailing boats.Yachting Vol. 2|Various.
He was buried in the corona at Canterbury, where his tomb yet remains.The Cathedral Church of Canterbury [2nd ed.].|Hartley Withers
Just at the edge of the corona a line should be cut in, called the scotia.Ten Books on Architecture|Vitruvius
The corona of the sun gleamed and writhed like a thin band of quicksilver.Hunters Out of Space|Joseph Everidge Kelleam
British Dictionary definitions for corona
noun plural -nas or -nae (-niː)
- the trumpet-shaped part of the corolla of daffodils and similar plants; the crown
- a crown of leafy outgrowths from inside the petals of some flowers