Word Watch: Ebolaphobia

Credit: gustavofrazao

Credit: gustavofrazao

Canada’s Word Spy Paul McFedries has flagged “Ebolaphobia” as a new entry to the lexicon.

Perhaps no surprise there, given the dominance of Ebola in the news, but what’s strange about this entrant is that it’s practically brand new. Like the compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary, McFedries logs citations for the words he spies — and in this case, the earliest citation is mere months ago.

According to McFedries, the first use was on 31 July on the website HPANWO Voice which is described as a forum for the HPANWO to review global news and trends.

HPANWO stands for Hospital Porters Against the New World Order.

We are not unhinged by Ebolaphobia.  — Jacquielynn Floyd, Dallas Morning News

McFedries also offered two citations from more conventional media — The Independent in August and the Dallas Morning News earlier this month. Dallas, of course, has been the epicentre of Ebolaphobia, although the News story, by Jacquielynn Floyd, runs under the headline “Good sense will inoculate you against Ebolaphobia,” and contains the assertion, “We are not unhinged by Ebolaphobia.”

McFedries defined the term (which can also be spelled as two words or hyphenated) as “a strong and irrational fear of the Ebola virus.” (The adjectival form is Ebolaphobic and the noun for one who suffers from this affliction is Ebolaphobe.”

“This word (or, at least, my definition of this word) doesn’t imply that it’s irrational to fear Ebola,” McFedries wrote. “Quite the contrary: It’s perfectly natural and rational to fear any deadly virus. However, it’s also possible for that fear to become irrational, whether through ignorance or (increasingly these days) media sensationalism and misinformation.”~TM


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