[ kuh-roh-nuh ]
/ k蓹藞ro蕣 n蓹 /
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Definition of corona

noun, plural co路ro路nas, co路ro路nae [kuh-roh-nee]. /k蓹藞ro蕣 ni/.
Should you take this quiz on 鈥渟hall鈥 versus 鈥渟hould鈥? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?

Origin of corona

First recorded in 1555鈥65; from Latin cor艒na 鈥済arland, crown鈥 (see crown), from Greek kor峁搉膿 鈥渃rown, curved object鈥; akin to kor艒n铆s 鈥渃urved, beaked,鈥 k贸rax 鈥渃row, raven鈥 (see crow1)

Other definitions for corona (2 of 2)

[ kuh-roh-nuh ]
/ k蓹藞ro蕣 n蓹 /

a city in southeastern California.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2022


Where does聽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鈥65. It was borrowed directly from the Latin cor艒na, meaning 鈥済arland, wreath, crown.鈥 Its plural form is cor艒nae. A verb form of cor艒na was cor艒n膩re, 鈥渢o crown, wreathe,鈥 ultimate source of the English coronation, 鈥渢he act or ceremony of crowning a king, queen, or other sovereign.鈥

Let鈥檚 start with a glimpse into life in ancient Rome. Back then, a cor艒na served various ceremonial and symbolic functions. People wore cor艒nae of flowers at festivals, for example, or used them to ornament images of gods. Priests donned cor艒nae when performing important rituals and sacrifices.

Different types of cor艒na were used as military decorations honoring various acts of bravery. For instance, the cor艒na m奴r膩lis, or 鈥渨alled crown,鈥 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 cor艒na c墨vica (鈥渃ivic crown鈥), bestowed on a citizen who saved a fellow citizen鈥檚 life. It was also known as cor艒na querca, or 鈥渙ak crown,鈥 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 cor艒na could be used for various things that resemble crowns in their form, including cornices and the halo around the sun. These applications of cor艒na 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鈥檚 record, evidenced around the mid-1600s, is corona meaning 鈥渁 ring of light, as around the sun or moon鈥濃攍ike a figurative crown atop the head of a celestial body. Today, astronomers specifically use corona for the outermost part of the sun鈥檚 atmosphere, which is visible during a total solar eclipse.

Dig deeper

As we鈥檝e seen, corona comes from the Latin word for 鈥渃rown.鈥 So does the very word crown!

Much older than corona, crown is found in English around 1125鈥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 cor艒na has its own fascinating past. It was borrowed from the ancient Greek kor峁搉膿, 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聽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鈥corona being the Spanish word for 鈥渃rown,鈥 also from the Latin cor艒na. 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鈥70, the name coronavirus is based on the structure of these viruses.

OK, so far we鈥檝e had some Latin lessons, some history, even a dash of architecture and astronomy鈥攁 little pathology can鈥檛 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 cor艒na, 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鈥攁nd yes, line of cars鈥攆or 鈥渢he petals of a flower.鈥 It comes from the Latin corolla, 鈥渓ittle garland,鈥 a diminutive of cor艒na. The term corollary is also derived from corolla.

How to use corona in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for corona

/ (k蓹藞r蓹蕣n蓹) /

noun plural -nas or -nae (-ni藧)

Word Origin for corona

C16: from Latin: crown, from Greek kor艒ne anything curved; related to Greek kor艒nis wreath, korax crow, Latin curvus curved
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medical definitions for corona

[ k蓹-r艒n蓹 ]

n. pl. co鈥o鈥as
The crownlike upper portion of a body part or structure, such as the top of the head.
The American Heritage庐 Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright 漏 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Scientific definitions for corona

[ k蓹-r艒n蓹 ]

Plural coronas coronae (k蓹-r艒n膿)
The luminous, irregular envelope of gas outside the chromosphere of a star. The Sun's corona is composed of ionized gas between approximately 1,000,000掳K and 2,000,000掳K and has an extremely low density. This phenomenon is visible only during a solar eclipse.
A faintly colored luminous ring appearing to surround a celestial body (such as the Moon or Sun) that is visible through a haze or thin cloud, caused by diffraction of light from suspended matter in the intervening medium. Also called aureole
A faint glow of the air in the region of very strong electric fields, caused by ionization of the air molecules and flow of current in that region in corona discharge.
The crownlike upper portion of a bodily part or structure, such as the top of the head.
A crown-shaped structure on the inner side of the petals of some flowers, such as the daffodil.
The American Heritage庐 Science Dictionary Copyright 漏 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.