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Full Fact: The Latin term "corona virus" does not translate to "heart attack virus"


11 January 2023

What was claimed

“Cor ona virus” means “heart attack virus” when translated from Latin into English using Google Translate, which suggests the true nature of the virus has been covered up.

Our verdict

This is not what the words mean in Latin. The word “coronavirus” has existed for decades to describe a group of viruses.

A video on Facebook claims that “cor ona  virus” means “heart attack virus” when translated from Latin to English through Google Translate.

The video, which appears to have originally been uploaded to TikTok, instructs viewers to go to Google Translate and type in “cor”, followed by one space, “ona”, followed by two spaces, then “virus”. 

When Full Fact replicated this search, we also found the same translation of “heart attack virus”. However when we tried to replicate the same Google Translate search with just one space between each word, we did not find the same result. Instead, the “Latin” showed the same text in English. 

When translating just the “cor ona” part of the phrase, Google Translate did return the result “heart wave” in English. However we were not able to find the same results as those claimed in the Facebook post.

We reversed the search, trying instead to translate “heart attack virus” from English into Latin. This returned the result “cor impetum virus”

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What do the words mean?

VIDEO: Coronavirus is a Latin word for “heart attack virus.”
Spiracy or Reality

It is not clear why Google Translate offers different results depending on the number of spaces between the words, but it does seem that the claimed translation isn’t correct. 

“Corona” is a Latin word, meaning crown. “Cor” is also a Latin word, meaning heart. The English word “virus” is a word in Latin as well, meaning venom. However, “ona” is not a Latin word.

The coronavirus family of viruses gets its name from the crown-like spikes on their surface. This happened long before the discovery of the virus that causes Covid-19.

This is not the first time we have seen false claims that familiar phrases have secret Latin meanings. During the first months of the vaccine rollout in early 2021 it was falsely claimed that “AstraZeneca” translates to “weapon that kills”.

The name of the pollster Ipsos MORI is also not correct Latin for the phrase “they die”. 

No evidence ‘coronavirus’ name means Covid-19 effects were covered up

VIDEO: Fact check: No, coronavirus is not a Latin word for 'heart attack virus'|#shorts
Health And Fitness World

The video on Facebook then goes on to ask about the supposed translation: “You think that’s just pure coincidence? [...] We were always told it was just a respiratory disease. Still think it’s a coincidence there’s so many people getting a heart attack? Stroke?”

This appears to imply that the name “coronavirus” was chosen for Covid-19 as a secretive indication of its apparent effects.

While Covid-19 is a respiratory illness, it has been associated with cardiovascular complications

However the name “coronavirus” was not invented to describe the virus that causes Covid. It describes a family of viruses that have been grouped under this term since the late 1960s, including SARS

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because this isn’t an accurate translation.

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