Hebrew Language Blog

Coronavirus in Israel: Hebrew Vocabulary Posted by on Apr 1, 2020 in Uncategorized

Hebrew vocabulary to help you read the related news.

Image via Pixabay

נְגִיף [virus, ne-gif, masculine, plural נְגׅיפׅים]

Although the word virus has an old corresponding word in Hebrew – נְגִיף, most still use the English word when speaking about the coronavirus. Even among those who do use the Hebrew נְגִיף, many utter it incorrectly. הַחֲלוּפָה הָעׅבְרׅית לַמּׅילָה וִירוּס הׅיא נְגִיף. וְלֺא נָגׅיף! (the Hebrew word for virus is negif. Not nagif!), declared the Academy of the Hebrew Language.

The next short item from January about the new virus uses the Hebrew word and its conjugations:


תַּסְמִין [symptom, tas-min, masculine, plural תַּסְמׅינׅים]

The Hebrew word תַּסְמִין usually appears in its plural form. Two verbs can be used with the noun תַּסְמׅינׅים: לְפַתֵּח (to develop), and לְהוֺפׅיעַ (to appear). For example:

חֵלֶק מַשְׁמָעוּתִי מׅן הַנּׅדְבָּקׅים בּׅנְגּׅיף הַקּוֺרוֺנָה אֵינָם מְפַתְחׅים תַּסְמׅינׅים כְּלָל.

A significant part of all people infected with coronavirus do not develop symptoms at all.

בּׅמְמֻצָּע נִרְאֶה כּׅי תַּסְמׅינׅים שֶׁל נְגּׅיף הַקּוֺרוֺנָה מוֺפׅיעׅים כְּ-5 יָמׅים לְאַחַר הַחֲשִׂיפָה.

On average, symptoms of COVID-19 seem to appear around 5 days after exposure.

In spoken language, though, many simply use the verb הָיָה (to have). For example:

אֵין לוֺ תַּסְמׅינׅים.

He has no symptoms.


סַכָּנָה [danger, risk, sa-ka-na, feminine, plural סַכָּנוֺת]

יֵשׁ רַבּׅים בֵּינֵיכֶם שֶׁעֲדַיִן לֺא מְבׅינׅים אֶת גּוֺדֶל הַסַּכָּנָה (many among you still don’t realize the magnitude of danger), warned prime minister Netanyahu. The coronavirus is highly contagious, and its rapid spread has sparked alarm worldwide. Israel fights to stop the pandemic by social distancing. Hygiene is also very important for reducing the risk of infection (סַכָּנַת הַהִדַּבְּקוּת). The Ministry of Health issued these hand washing guidelines:


Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms. In most cases, symptoms have remained mild. Most people (about 80 per cent) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. But older people and people with serious underlying medical conditions are considered at high risk groups (קְבוּצַת סִכּוּן). These people are at increased risk (בְּסִכּוּן מֻגְבָּר) to develop a serious illness.


מַשְׁבֵּר [crisis, mash-ber, masculine, plural מַשְׁבֵּרׅים)

At the beginning of January, when a new strain of coronavirus was identified in China, articles about the subject received the title הִתְפָּרְצוּת הַקּוֺרוֺנָה (the corona outbreak). As the virus spread through the world, a new title appeared: מַשְׁבֵּר הַקּוֺרוֺנָה (the corona crisis). On one of the press conferences, Netanyahu said:אֲנִי עוֺשֶׂה הַכָּל כְּדֵי שֶׁאֲנַחְנוּ בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל נׅצְלַח אֶת הַמַּשְׁבֵּר הַזֶּה, זֶהוּ מַשְׁבֵּר עֲנָק (I am doing everything so that we in Israel can overcome this crisis, this is a huge crisis).

Even children’s playgrounds are off-limits now. Off-limits tape surrounding Tel-Aviv playground to limit coronavirus exposure, March 22 (photo by Ayana).


בּׅידוּד [isolation, bi-dud, masculine, plural בִּדּוּדִים]

Anyone in Israel who has returned from abroad, or comes in close contact with a verified corona patient, must enter home isolation (בִּידוּד בֵּיתִי). Tens of thousands of Israelis were isolated in their home in the last couple of months. To indicate someone is in isolation the prefix בְּ is added before the noun בִּידוּד. For example:

מִשְׂרַד הַבְּרִיאוּת מַנְחֶה אֲנָשִׁים שֶׁחָזְרוּ מֵחוּץ-לָאָרֶץ לִשְׁהוֹת בְּבּׅידוּד לְמֶשֶׁךְ תְּקוּפָה שֶׁל 14 יוֺם.

The Ministry of Health is requiring people who have returned from overseas to be in isolation for 14 days.

עוֺבֵד שֶׁנִּדְרַשׁ לְהִימָּצֵא בְּבּׅידוּד עֵקֶב חֲשָׁשׁ שֶׁנִדְבַּק בּׅנְגּׅיף הַקּוֺרוֺנָה יֵיחָשֵׁב כְּמׅי שֶׁנֶעֱדָר מֵעֲבוֹדָתוֹ עֵקֶב מַחֲלָה וְיׅהֲיֶה זַכַּאי לְתַּשְׁלוּם דְּמֵי מַחֲלָה.

An employee who is required to be in isolation because of suspected coronavirus will be treated as someone absent from work because of an illness and is entitled to sick pay. 


הֶסְגֵּר [quarantine, es-ger, masculine, plural הֶסְגֵּרׅים]

On March 14, Netanyahu announced new restrictions, shutting down all educational institutions, and halting all commercial activity. People had started to realize: יִשְׂרָאֵל בַּדֶּרֶךְ לְהֶסְגֵּר (Israel gets closer to be lockdown). On March 17, the Israeli Health Ministry issued new directives, announcing a partial lockdown. Israelis were instructed not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. Visits to markets, pharmacies and health care institutions are permitted, but the public was instructed not to go out to open spaces like parks, playgrounds, and the beach, with the exception of only children within the family framework or alone with an animal. Netanyahu claimed: אֲנַחְנוּ לֺא נוֹעֲלִים אֶת הָאֲנָשׁׅים בַּבָּתׅים, זֶהוּ לֺא הֶסְגֵּר כְּלָלִי (we don’t lock people in the houses, this is not full quarantine). But people obeyed, workplaces let people off work, and the streets of Israel became empty:

(video from March 20)

Keep learning Hebrew with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it