German words you may need to know during the coronavirus pandemic

The current COVID-19 crisis that we are currently dealing with, which feels like something between a horror and sci-fi movie, has slapped us all in the face. We are all trying to cope with the situation as it evolves and having to adjust our daily lives to #flattenthecurve. And since this is a topic that almost all of us have no experience with, some of the media coverage may be a bit overwhelming and confusing. Living in another country during this crisis adds yet another disorienting layer to the mix.

Of course, we can all find information in our respective native languages online. (By the way  I hope you all have good internet!) However, we also want to know what is happening in our city and neighborhood. Well, when you’re living in Germany, the news reports about your region or city are going to be in German. Some media providers may translate certain things into other languages, but of course the primary language in German. That’s why I decided to create a list of some of the more common words and expressions that are being used in the German-speaking media regarding this crisis so I can hopefully support some of you in understanding what the **** is going on.


der Abstand – distance, gap

das Ansteckungsrisiko – contagiousness

die Armbeuge – crook of the arm, bent arm

die Atemnot – shortness of breath

die Ausbreitung – spread

die Ausgangssperre – ban on going out

die Beschränkung – restriction

die Bewegungsfreiheit – freedom of movement

bis auf Weiteres – until further notice

das Desinfektionsmittel – sanitizer, disinfectant

eindämmen – to contain

einsperren – to confine, to constrain, to lock up

das Fieber – fever

die Gastronomiebetriebe – food service

die Gesichtsmaske – face mask

das Gesundheitsamt – Ministry of Health, public health authority

der Gesundheitsminister – Minister of Health

die Hamsterkäufe – hoarding, panic buying, [translated literally] hamster buying 😀

der Husten – coughing

husten  to cough 

im Griff haben – to have something under control

der Impfstoff – vaccine

das Infektionsrisiko – risk of infection

die Infektionskette – chain of infection

die Körperflüssigkeit – bodily fluid

die Kontaktperson – contact person (regarding a person you have had contact with who may be infected)

das Krankheitsanzeichen – signs of illness

die Krise – crisis

die Kurzarbeit – reduced working hours

die Lage – situation

die Lieferdienste – delivery services

die Lungenentzündung – pneumonia, lung inflammation

die Maßnahmen – measures, sanctions

die Menschenansammlung – gathering of people

die Menschenmenge – crowd

die Mitmenschen – fellow human beings

nachsteuern – to readjust

die Nichteinhaltung – violation

öffentliches Leben – public life

die Pandemie – pandemic

die Quarantäne – quarantine

das Risiko – risk

die Risikogebiete – risk areas

die Risikogruppen – risk groups

Todesfälle – fatalities, deaths

soziale Distanz – social distance

soziales Verhalten – social behavior 

der Verdachtsfall – suspected case

die Verhaltensregeln – rules of conduct

weitreichend – extensive, far-reaching


Do any of these words or expressions need some extra context? Let me know!

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Kübra

    Thanks for this list, I’m trying to read more news in German these days, so this is quite useful! I hope we all can talk about other things soon though 🤞🤞🤞

Leave a Reply