• corona •
kê-ro-nê • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A halo of light, the "atmosphere" of the sun, seen at the peak of a solar eclipse. 2. Anything resembling a crown, such as the top of the head. 3. A crown-shaped outgrowth of the perianth of certain flowers, such as the daffodil.
Notes: The corona virus was named in 1969 for the spikes that protrude from its membranes that resemble the spikes of a crown or the corona of the sun. The adjective is coronal or coronary. The plural is usually coronae; coronas is used, but rarely.
In Play: This word is mostly used in connection with the sun: "The corona of the sun is brighter than the full moon during an eclipse." It may be used, though, for other round objects: "The corona virus scare caused the sales of Corona beer to nose-dive."
Word History: Corona is the Latin word for "crown, garland", which were bestowed for distinguished military service in ancient Rome. Corona is a suffixed form of the PIE word ker-/kor-/kr- "to turn, bend". It turned up in Ancient Greek korone "curved part, end, tip". We also see it in Latin curvus "curved" and Ancient Greek kirkos "circle, ring", which Latin borrowed as circus "circle, ring". In the Germanic languages the vowel dropped out, giving kr- and it picked up the ubiquitous suffix -ing making kring. Since PIE [k] became [h] in Germanic languages, a soft consonant that often drops out, in English and German it became ring. The vowel [o] also remained in these languages, producing Krone "crown" in German and crown in English. (Gratitude is now due Sue Gold, our old friend and long-time contributor at Westtown School, for today's very topical Good Word.)
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