Karanténkert, koronamém, pánikvásárló, vécépapírkrízis… words we have not used before in the Hungarian language. What do they mean? How did they appear in our and other languages? How long these words live? Questions linguistics research and answer in the last few months since the coronavirus epidemic broke out in the world. 

Ágnes Veszelszki is an associate professor at the Corvinus University of Budapest, the head of the Communication and Media Studies Department and also an enthusiastic researcher of languages. In a recent study, she aimed to collect and examine more than two hundred new Hungarian words and expressions, all created by the coronavirus epidemic. These appeared in our language quickly, and many people started to use them in everyday conversations — both oral and written — and everyone understood them immediately. 

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The epidemic created new words and made other already existing ones more frequent in our language, begins Veszelszki on the website E-nyelv.hu. With the help of an online form, the professor created a survey and was able to collect more than two hundred new words and expressions from acquaintances, friends and mostly university students at Corvinus. Veszelszki emphasises that these words appeared in the past five months in the Hungarian language but did not “stay with us” forever. Although they were born quickly, once the epidemic ends, they will disappear in a short time. 

Let us see some examples and their explanations! 

New words and expressions appeared in different categories. According to the study, the first main category is the coronavirus itself and its features and the reactions. 

Covidinka 

From the English version of covidiot, the Hungarian form was born from COVID + dinka, without an additional “d” in the word. Dinka is the funny expression of idióta, which means idiot. The person who is covidinka is someone who does not care about the virus and its consequences. 

Megkoronázódik

The expression megkoronáz means that someone crowns a man or woman to be a king or queen. From the Hungarian name of the virus (koronavírus) the word megkoronázódik was born. This means that someone gets the disease; someone is crowned with the virus as the word “korona” means crown in Hungarian. 


The next category would be the home office and distance learning. Due to the epidemic, universities and some workplaces closed and people were forced to stay at home and to study and work from their rooms for a long time. New words, of course, also appeared to describe this period. 

Karanténpedagógia 

Quarantine + pedagogy. This means the brand-new area in the field of teaching, where teachers educate children from their own homes. 

Koronaválás

Corona + divorce. Many experts estimate that because of self home-quarantine, the number of divorces would increase as the stressful situation leads to arguments and conflicts in many households where married couples live. Koronaválás means couples who divorced because of the coronavirus epidemic. 

Karanténszakáll

Quarantine + beard. Beside no shave November, another challenge among men was to grow karanténszakáll, which simply means not to shave for a long time to represent that staying at home feels like being on a deserted island after shipwrecking. Or was it just a new trend? We let you decide. 


The third category would be our homes where we spent almost three months and everyday life. 

Karanténkonyha

Many people who usually ate out at restaurants and bars were forced to order online or try to cook. The word karanténkonyha (quarantine + kitchen) means not just an ordinary kitchen, but a new place for many who have not cooked before and also restaurants, bars and fast food places. 

Karanténrecept

Quarantine + recipe. Those recipes that do not need ingredients from supermarkets because everything is available at our homes. 

Karanténkert

Quarantine + garden. Probably the only place many people spent their time to get some fresh air if they have one and do not live in block of flats but family houses.

Vécépapírkrízis

Toilet paper + crisis. The lack of toilet papers at supermarkets was named this way. 

Pánikvásárló

Panic + purchaser. Someone who rushes into the store to buy fertiliser, toilet paper, food and everything else necessary for home quarantine, in large quantities. 


Let us continue with entertainment and free-time. During self-quarantine, it was essential to keep ourselves entertained to forget about the whole situation. We “met” our friends and relatives online and spent our times together through a screen.

Karanténivászat

Quarantine + drinking. It is organising drinkies online; to sit down in front of your computer with a glass of wine or other types of alcohol and drink together.

Karanténmese

Quarantine + tale. Reading a tale through video calls.

Karanténnapló

Quarantine + diary. Writing down our feelings and thoughts into a diary which is not just an ordinary one because it was written about the epidemic. 

Karanténtest

Quarantine + body. This year many say that karanténtest is the new beach body. The body you build up by training and exercises in your own home.

Koronamém

Corona + meme. Like every other major event and moment in life, the coronavirus epidemic could not exist without funny memes to keep us entertained and to make us forget the epidemic. The word koronamém means all the memes related to the coronavirus. 

Koronapara

Corona + panic. Para is the short version of pánik which means panic. Someone who has koronapara is really worried about the epidemic and its consequences and remains stressful all the time being unable to spend free-time by having fun and relaxing. 


These are just some of many the study mentions, and there is more. Veszelszki closes her study by stating that these new words and expressions will not become the essential parts of the Hungarian language because once the epidemic ends they will only remind us that there was a time when these words were used almost every day. 

CLICK HERE for more Mini Language lessons! 

Abstracts in English by Ágnes Veszelszki

Featured image: Alpár Kató / Daily News Hungary

Source: www.e-nyelvmagazin.hu

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