Gendered languages assign masculine and feminine grammatical gender to all nouns, including nonhuman entities. In French, Italian, and Spanish, the name of the disease resulting from the virus (COVID-19) is grammatically feminine, whereas the virus that causes the disease (coronavirus) is masculine. In this research, we test whether the grammatical gender mark matters. In a series of experiments with French and Spanish speakers, we find that grammatical gender affects virus-related judgments consistent with gender stereotypes: feminine- (vs. masculine-) marked terms for the virus decrease perceptions of future danger of the virus and reduce intentions to take precautionary behavioral measures to mitigate contraction and spread of the virus (e.g., avoiding restaurants, movies, travel). Secondary data analyses of online search behavior for France, Spain, and Italy further demonstrate this negative relation between the anticipated threat (daily new cases and deaths, search for masks) and usage of the feminine- (vs. masculine-) marked terms for the coronavirus. These effects occur even though the grammatical gender assignment is semantically arbitrary.