It’s ‘omicron,’ not ‘omnicron’: COVID variant’s spelling doesn’t have two Ns

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The word "omnicron" with a slash through the end to read (correctly) "omicron"

The latest COVID-19 variant should be spelled “omicron,” not “omnicron” (Background via Getty Images/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — As the world reacts to the emergence of yet another COVID-19 variant, spellings of the variant dubbed “omicron” by the World Health Organization are also mutating.

Over the weekend, social media users and even several news outlets improperly began referring to omicron — named with a Greek letter, as are the other variants — to “omnicron.”

In an address from the White House on Monday, even President Joe Biden incorrectly added another “N” to the variant’s name. Nevertheless, Biden assured the U.S. that while the omicron variant is a “cause for concern, not a cause for panic” and urged continued vaccinations for those who haven’t yet.

A global fervor over the news did indeed break out over the weekend, as many who had been looking forward to a potentially “normal” holiday season being taken away. But health experts, including WHO, and top U.S. infectious disease doctor Dr. Anthony Fauci, say much information about the variant is still needed — and will be coming.

Beginning Monday, travel into the U.S from the eight southern African countries where omicron has emerged is restricted as a precautionary measure. Countries currently restricted are South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi.

For native English speakers, it’s possible unfamiliarity with the Greek alphabet is causing the confusion.

While the world waits to find out what “omicron” will mean for the next few months, many continue to just work at pronouncing it correctly. As several online have pointed out, “omicron” can be rearranged to spell “moronic,” the common misspelling can’t.

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