By: Ishita Goel
February 16 2022
DIVOC is not an actual word in Hebrew, it is Dybbuk in English. There is no link to COVID-19 with the word, and is coincidental.
A claim that COVID spelled backward; DIVOC means possession of the evil spirit in Hebrew is being shared via Facebook post with an attached video from TikTok. The claim has been in circulation on various social media platforms and pages spreading conspiracy theories about the pandemic. It has been repeatedly debunked as being false. Lily Kahn, a professor of Hebrew and Jewish languages at University College London, told Newsweek that people have mistakenly linked the term COVID spelled backward to the word "dibbuk" (often spelled dybbuk in English), a Jewish concept that refers to "the spirit of a dead person that possesses a living person because they have unfinished business and want to speak through the living person." Further, Kahn clarified the confusion could be due to the pronunciation of the Hebrew language and the possibility of interpretations that can be made. According to Kahn, "Hebrew script is somewhat ambiguous with respect to the pronunciation of vowels, and the same consonant, can be pronounced as b or as v depending on the word." Hence an individual not aware of the language could "theoretically end up pronouncing it as divok/divoc." Since there is no letter 'c' in Hebrew, the sound is represented by 'k' and 'q,' according to Hugh Williamson, a Hebrew professor at the University of Oxford. He said that divoc is "grammatically and semantically questionable." Experts say there is no word DIVOC in Hebrew, the term dybbuk in existing English has origins from Hebrew. Further, the backward spelling matching a word is a coincidence. There is no connection between COVID and dybbuk in Hebrew. The official name of Coronavirus disease is COVID-19. CO stands Corona, VI stands for Virus, D stands for Disease, and 19 is the year of its occurrence, according to the World Health Organization. The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.