Russian COVID-19 Dictionary

Russian COVID-19 Dictionary
18 March 2021

COVID-19 has changed practically every aspect of our lives, language included. Below you will find a list of Russian COVID-19 vocabulary: an essential edition to any Russian student’s repertoire. 

For more information about the current coronavirus situation in Russia, take a look at

Антибактериальный гель для рук (Hand gel)/ Санитайзер (Sanitiser)

Hand gel has become an everyday essential. In Russia, as in many countries, it became very difficult to find at some points last year and was sold for extremely inflated prices. Sales soared by 1,100% during the period between March and June 2020, compared to the same period in 2019.

Гречка (Buckwheat)

Whilst people in Italy stocked up on pasta, Russians stocked up on buckwheat. It is cheap, has a long shelf-life and is easy to make.  Between the 9th and 15th March  2020, sales of buckwheat jumped 66% compared to the same period in 2019. Туалетка (toilet roll) was another scarce commodity, which many people stockpiled at the start of the pandemic.

Зум (Zoom)

During the COVID-19 self-isolation period, 84% of Russians used Zoom to work remotely. As well as being used for work, the platform has become a popular way to catch up with friends and family and even throw Зум-вечеринки (Zoom parties). The amount of ‘Zoom traffic’ in Russia increased by 535% within the first month of the WHO’s announcement of a ‘pandemic’ alone. 

Зумбомбинг (Zoombombing) 

This is when someone gatecrashes a Zoom meeting. Although often harmless fun, there have been cases where attackers crash meetings and share inappropriate or disturbing content. 

Инфодемия (Information-overload)

A term referring to the over-saturation of COVID-19 news in the Russian media.

Карантин (Quarantine)

If you don’t know what this means, then you’ve probably been living under a rock for the past year! In Russia, ‘карантин’ specifically refers to the temporary isolation people must adhere to if they have received a positive COVID-19 test, or have been in contact with someone else who has COVID-19.

Ковидиот (Covid-idiot)

This term derives from the words «COVID-19» and «идиот» (idiot). It can either apply to someone who is an ‘idiot’ because they are too worried about the pandemic (e.g. stockpiling toilet rolls), or someone who is failing to comply with COVID-10 rules and regulations (e.g. not socially distancing).

Ковидиворс (Covid-divorce) 

Deriving from the words «COVID-19» and ‘divorce,’ this term refers to couples who divorced during the pandemic. Interestingly, despite the increased pressure that self-isolating placed on some relationships, Rosstat actually noted a decrease in the number of divorces in Russia during this period.

Корониалы (Coronials) 

A new term referring to the generation of children conceived during the pandemic, equivalent to the term ‘миллениалы’ (Millennials). The first ‘корониалы’ were born in December 2020: 9 months after the outbreak of the pandemic. 

Локдаун (Lockdown)

Refers to severe restrictions on travel, social interaction, public spaces etc. A citywide lockdown was introduced by Moscow city from March 30 2020, with most other regions following suit. Moscow ended its lockdown on June 9 2020. Whilst lexicographers only noted 4,000 uses of the word ‘локдаун’ in 2019, it has since become commonplace in everyday language. 

Маска (Mask)

Masks have also become commonplace in Russia, as throughout much of the world. They became compulsory in public spaces and on public transport in October 2020.

Нерабочие дни, с сохранением зарплаты (Paid leave)

This period was announced at the end of March 2020. It eventually ended on 12 May, after 2 extensions of the period: in total, it lasted for 6 weeks. Informally, this period became known as Карантикулы, deriving from the words ‘карантин’ (quarantine) and ‘каникулы’ (holidays).

Обсервация (Observation)

This term refers to being in isolation under medical supervision, with severe restrictions. In Russia, this is especially common for tourists arriving from certain areas deemed to be ‘high risk.’ Those under observation must not leave their allocated room, usually for a 14 day period.

Пандемия (Pandemic) 

By definition, a pandemic is the worldwide spread of a disease, crossing borders and usually affecting a large number of people.


Literally meaning, ‘people who walk around,’ this new word refers to people who advocate a mild quarantine. They believe that people should at least have the ability to go out for walks, etc.

Подходить тест на коронавирус (To take a COVID-19 test)

As of March 10 2021, more than 114.1 million tests for COVID-19 were conducted in Russia: the fourth largest number worldwide. As a result of such tests, people receive either a положительный результат (positive result) or a отрицательный результат (negative result). Over 14.3 million COVID-19 tests had been conducted in the city of Moscow, as of January 18 2021.  5.4 million had been administered in St Petersburg. 

Самоизоляция (Self-isolation)

Similar to quarantine, but the person self-isolating can go 100 meters outside of their house. It applies to those who do not have coronavirus; whilst quarantine usually only applies to those infected. As of February 21 2021, Nizhny Novgorod had the highest self-isolation index among Russian cities.


This term refers to people who advocate a strict quarantine: they think people should only leave home for the absolute essentials. It literally means ‘people sitting at home!’

Социальная дистанция (Social distancing) 

Keeping 1.5 metres apart from other people. Although social-distancing is recommended in Russia, a Levada Centre poll conducted in November 2020 found that only 57% of Russians were observing these rules.

Удаленка (Remote work) 

In spring 2020 companies adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing employees to work from home. According to Statista, 51.3% of large Russian companies required that all employees work remotely during the period of self-isolation. 40.9% of Russians have expressed a desire to continue to work remotely after the pandemic. 


Hopefully this post has provided you with some useful Russian vocabulary, which you can put to good use in your next language lesson! Although, fingers crossed, some of these terms will become obsolete in the near future…

Posted by Amy Wyatt

Привет! Меня зовут Amy. I study Russian and History at Durham University, and am currently interning and studying with Liden and Denz St Petersburg. I am particularly interested in Soviet and post-Soviet history, Russian literature, and current affairs.

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