Corona words in French

If you are looking for bright spots in these times, you may find them in the expansion of your French vocabulary. Because some typical corona words are real gems!

For example, take the word couvre-feu for curfew, literally: putting out the fire. The word originates from the Middle Ages, when torches and candles were extinguished at night to prevent fires. The extinguishing of the fire then meant the beginning of the night.

Or the word confinement, for which we use lockdown. The word was once used for a geographic delimitation. After the Middle Ages, the word took on a new meaning, namely ‘confinement’.

Below are some words that you may encounter in the French news:

  • aplatir la courbe – to weaken the curve, or more often we use the English flatten the curve.
  • auto-isolation (le) – self-isolation
  • bully (la) – bubble; social circle
  • coude-à-coude (le) – elbow strike as a greeting
  • déconfinement (le) – release of the lockdown
  • éclosion (la) – outbreak
  • écouvillon (le) – cotton swab
  • grappe de cas (la) – infection cluster
  • lutte contre la covid (la) – fight against corona
  • poing-a-poing (le) – box (fist-to-fist) as a greeting
  • Réa (la) – stands for salle de réanimation; intensive care
  • recensement des contacts (le) – contact investigation
  • reconfiner – go into lockdown again
  • salut du pied (le) – greet with the feet; where you tap the other person’s foot with your foot