[Ads-l] scariant - scary variant of the virus that causes Covid-19

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 13 19:28:49 UTC 2021

More specifically, "scariant" has been used lately to draw attention to how
Covid variants are *made to seem scary* by sensationalistic media reports.

When I first encountered "scariant" on Twitter back in February, I
misinterpreted it as a blend of "SARS-CoV-2 variant" before commenters set
me straight.


On Thu, May 13, 2021 at 3:16 PM ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com>

> Several websites have articles in 2021 containing "scariant" or
> "scariants", e.g., wired.com, webmd.com, irishtimes.com, and
> theguardian.com. I checked barrypopik.com and did not see "scariant".
> Here are some early tweets. The meaning of "scariant" is ambiguous in
> the first tweet below, but the same tweeter uses an unambiguous
> instance thirteen days later.
> [Begin twitter info]
> https://twitter.com/FlBirder/status/1345484848765480960
> Tweeter: FlBirder @FlBirder
> Timestamp: 4:39 PM · Jan 2, 2021
> Replying to @amandajs78 and @braceberg1
> It's actually a SCARIANT.
> [End twitter info]
> [Begin twitter info]
> https://twitter.com/FlBirder/status/1349957823619354628
> Tweeter: FlBirder @FlBirder
> Timestamp: 12:53 AM · Jan 15, 2021
> Replying to @themodalice
> It morphed into the SCARIANT highly intelligent super spreader
> Italian, British, fill-in-the_____, country mutation of Covid 19.
> [End twitter info]
> There is an earlier match which equates "scariants" to "variants of
> scary", but the tweet does not refer to the Covid-19 virus.
> [Begin twitter info]
> https://twitter.com/calbo/status/222309442631368707
> Tweeter: Cal Wilson @calbo
> Timestamp: 8:41 AM · Jul 9, 2012
> So many variants of scary. Scariants. RT @courteneyh: i'm scared that
> this will give me nightmares: http://bit.ly/ukGjA3
> [End twitter info]

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