For members


The new German words that perfectly describe the coronavirus pandemic

From Impfneid (vaccine envy) to Abstandbier (socially distanced beer), these words are so hot right now.

The new German words that perfectly describe the coronavirus pandemic

It’s often said that the Germans have a word for everything – and that’s true in corona times as well. Around 200 new words including Impfneid (vaccine envy) and Abstandbier (socially distanced beer) have been added to a list of new words by the Leibniz Institute for the German language.

1. When it’s all become too much.

For those feeling overwhelmed by the year-long pandemic, there is Coronaangst (Corona anxiety), coronamüde (corona tired) or überzoom (too much zoom).

2. Love in the time of corona

If you have a specific cuddle partner, they are your Kuschelkontact (cuddle contact). More bleakly, Todesküsschen (little kiss of death) has became synonymous with a friendly kiss on the cheek.

3. Keeping your distance from everybody

The term Babyelefant is now a common concept for anyone living in Austria, where we are urged to keep a “baby elephant’s” distance from one another.

A CoronaFußgruß (corona foot greeting) has replaced the traditional handshake upon meeting people. 

4. Panic at the start of the first lockdown

The process of the pandemic can be tracked through new words emerging. At the beginning of lockdown last March, the word Hamsteritis (hamster buying) was widely used, referring to panic buying as similar to a hamster filling its cheeks with food to eat later.

Added to that was Klopapierhysterie, or hysteria over toilet paper running about.

5. Balcony entertainment

As people began singing from their balconies during the spring lockdown, the word Balkonsänger (balcony singer) came into use, along with Balkonklatscher (balcony clapper) Balkonkonzert (balcony concert) and of course Balkonmusik (balcony music).

6. Watching sport during the pandemic

You might want to try out an Abstandsjubeltanz, loosely translated as a socially distanced choreographed dance when celebrating your football team’s win.

7. Mask wearing

The Germans have adopted the British term Covidiot, but have a more specific word of Maskentrottel (mask idiot), for someone who wears their face covering under their nose. A mask worn this way can also be described as a Kinnwärmer or chin warmer.

A mask worn correctly is sometimes referred to as a Gesichtskondom (face condom).

8. Waiting forever for a vaccine

Germany and the EU’s slow vaccine rollout has led to many experiencing Impfneid or vaccine envy as other countries race ahead in vaccinating their citizens. 

The words were found by the team of researchers by combing through press reports, social media and the wider internet.

You can find the whole list of new words here

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


How to be an au pair in Germany during the pandemic

Working as an au pair can be a great way to experience the German language and culture, while saving money on living expenses. One British au pair in Berlin breaks down what she learned from the experience amid the corona crisis.

How to be an au pair in Germany during the pandemic
Archive photo shows an Italian au pair with a family in Bamberg. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Nicolas Armer

An au pair will predominantly help a family with their childcare responsibilities, but may also be expected to undertake basic household duties like cooking and cleaning. In return for this work, you earn a monthly allowance and your host family will cover the cost of living and health insurance. 

Even at the best of times, however, many run into issues of privacy, separating work from their social lives and at times have their generosity taken advantage of. The pandemic has only exacerbated these challenges. 

Here’s what you need to know to make the best of the experience, even in the worst of times. 

Working hours

If you are spending time with the family out of hours, you might feel an obligation to help with cooking, clearing up and entertaining the children, meaning you work much longer than is healthy or legal. It is worth remembering that au pairs in Germany are legally only allowed to work six hours a day, and must have at least four evenings and one day off per week. 

READ ALSO: What you need to know about teaching English in Germany

Many host families will assume that if their au pair is in the house, they are also free to help with household tasks and might ask you to carry out duties outside of normal hours. With Kitas (nurseries or kindergartens) and schools closed during much of the past year, families have turned to their au pairs for extra childcare. 

Though you may be met with expectations to work overtime, try to politely make it clear to your host family that you cannot always be at their beck and call.


For many, au pairing is a necessary financial decision and can be the only way to experience a new country at a young age. The au pair allowance in Germany is just 280 a month, despite the work often being quite gruelling.

For the legal working hours, this allowance means that au pairs earn just over 2 per hour in Germany and so should feel no responsibility to work overtime. The absence of rent, health insurance costs and other living expenses does mean that the allowance provides some freedom to explore the local culture – take advantage of this where you can. 

Choosing a family

One of the most important factors when deciding to work as an au pair is finding a family that you will get along well with. Most au pair websites have messaging features where you can get in touch with a family before you decide to travel. Arranging a video call is the best way to get a sense of your hosts. The site most people use to find a host family is Au Pair World.

It is perfectly acceptable to decline a family’s offer of work after meeting them; this is much less painful than suffering through months of household tensions.

Photo: DPA

At this time, it is important to remember to discuss the family’s expectations around you travelling and socialising while you are staying with them and to think about how you can still make the most of your time abroad.

When you are living alone or with younger people, it can feel easy to justify meeting up with other households. Living with a host family, particularly if any members of the household are vulnerable, can complicate this, so be aware of the extra responsibility you will hold.   


It is possible for most people to travel to Germany as an au pair within current guidelines, though you should be aware of up-to-date guidance as to whether you will need to quarantine or complete a test before or after travel. See the Ministry of Health’s current guidance on travelling to Germany. 

READ ALSO: When will Germany relax restrictions on international and domestic travel?


Au pairs from EU member states will not need a visa to work as an au pair in Germany. All you will need is to bring with you a passport or identity card and to register at the local Einwohnermeldeamt (residency office) where you should present your au pair contract. 

The process for au pairs travelling from further afield is slightly more laborious, and can take up to three months – giving an insight into German bureaucracy. You will need to present documents including your au pair contract and confirmation of insurance, and might be asked to provide proof of your German level. Au Pair World sets out the full guidelines here.

READ ALSO: How non-EU nationals can get a residency permit to live in Germany


When so much time is spent at home, the boundaries between work and family time can easily blur. Since moving to Berlin as an au pair at the end of February, I have had to spend much of my time at home due to Covid regulations. Though sharing a house is in many ways a blessing and means I can never go long without bumping into someone for a chat, it has been a struggle in terms of privacy. 

If your cooking and bathroom facilities are shared, as is the case for so many au pairs, you can feel a lot of pressure to socialise, even at times when you feel you need your own space. Since our movements and social lives have been so restricted over the past year, this pressure has only increased. 

How much time you spend with your host family is of course a matter of personal preference, but in my case it has been necessary to set out time to spend by myself.

Even if it is not explicitly exerted by a host family, au pairs can often feel pressure to be on their best behaviour, so taking time to relax is vital.