Swedish word of the day: vinterkräksjuka

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: vinterkräksjuka

Here's the next word in The Local's winter-themed word of the day series, running from December 1st to Christmas Eve.


Today's word is vinterkräksjuka – not particularly festive, but definitely an important word to understand for the winter season.

Vinterkräksjuka is usually translated in English as "winter vomiting virus" or "norovirus" and the Swedish word can be broken down into the words vinter (winter), kräk (from kräkas meaning "to vomit" – note that kräk used on its own can also be an insult meaning something like "creep" or "wretch"), and sjuka (illness).

It's caused by the Caliciviridae group of viruses, and symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea typically emerge shortly after infection. It's not a pleasant experience, and thousands are affected each year. Many Swedish families will have their own horror stories of the whole household being infected with the bug.


The best way to try to ward off the illness is to keep good hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water regularly, and if you experience the symptoms, stay hydrated and get rest.

FOR MEMBERS: How the Swedish healthcare system works

So why have we chosen this word for today?

Well, the virus is most common between the months of November and April, and Sweden's Public Health Agency said this week that the 2021/22 season for the bug has started, based on searches for vinterkräksjukan on healthcare website 1177, as well as analysis of voluntary reports to microbiological laboratories across the country.

"We don't know how far the infection will spread," said Elsie Ydring, epidemiologist at the Public Health Agency. "Last year, there was no season, and only a few cases were reported in the winter months".

The Public Health Agency has previously said that the reason there were almost no norovirus cases reported last year could be due to the fact that measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 were also effective in stopping the spread of norovirus, as well as viruses spread in similar ways such as influenza and RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus, more commonly referred to as RS-viruset in Swedish).

So, now you know. We hope you don't need to use this word, but if you do end up getting the virus, then at least you know what to call it.


Example sentences

Så kallad vinterkräksjuka orsakas av calicivirus

The so-called winter vomiting bug is caused by calcivirus

Hur kan jag skydda mig mot vinterkräksjukan?

How can I protect myself from the winter vomiting bug?

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Article first published by Catherine Edwards in 2019 and updated by Becky Waterton in 2021.


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