FACT CHECK: Does COVID-19 Translate To ‘See A Sheep Surrender’ In An Ancient Language?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims COVID-19 means “see a sheep surrender” in an ancient language.

Verdict: False

COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019.”

Fact Check:

Social media has become replete with misinformation about the novel coronavirus that has sickened some 10.3 million people around the world to date. An image on Facebook claims the nomenclature for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, translates to “see a sheep surrender.”

“‘Ovid’ is Latin for a sheep,” read’s the image’s text. “COVID starts with a C, which also means ‘see’ in ancient language. 19 was known as the ‘number of surrender’ in ancient times. C-OVID 19 = ‘See A Sheep Surrender.'”

But the post’s claim doesn’t hold up. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on Feb. 11 that COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019,” with the number “19” referring to the year the virus was first detected. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website provides the same expansion for the acronym.

“We now have a name for the disease and it is COVID-19. And I will spell it: C-O-V-I-D hyphen one nine,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, at a Feb. 11 press conference. “‘CO,’ C-O, stands for ‘corona,’ V-I stands for ‘virus,’ ‘D’ for ‘disease,’ so ‘COVID.'”

“Ovid” is not the latin word for “sheep,” further adding to the post’s dubiousness. The English-to-Latin dictionary on the University of Notre Dame website lists the Latin word “ovis” as one of the words for “sheep.” The letter “C” is an abbreviation for the number “100” in Roman numerals, not “see” in Latin.

“Ovis means sheep. C is an abbreviation for 100 (centum),” Dr Paul Roche, an Associate Professor in Latin at the University of Sydney, told AFP Fact Check. “I’ve never heard the number 19 as having any significance in this respect.”

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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