Swedish word of the day: munskydd

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Swedish word of the day: munskydd
There's a good reason this is our word of the day. Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond

Today's word is a hotly discussed one right now.


Munskydd is the Swedish word for 'face mask', referring to face coverings worn to protect against infection from fumes or contagion.

It comes from the words mun (mouth) and skydd (which means both 'protection' and 'cover').

You'll also see the word ansiktsskydd, literally 'face protection', but there's a difference between the two. An ansiktsskydd covers the full face and often refers to what we would call a visor in English, whereas a munskydd is a mask usually covering just the lower part of your face. Of course, it doesn't only cover your mouth – for it to be effective, you also need to have your nose covered.

You can use munskydd with a few different verbs, since it can be seen as both an item of clothing and a tool: använda munskydd (to use a face mask) or bära munskydd (to wear a face mask).



And if you're talking about a cosmetic face mask, the beauty treatment, the term you need is ansiktsmask, although this is sometimes used about protective face coverings as well. 

A munskydd can be either medical grade, with valves, as is used by healthcare professionals. Or it can be a simple cloth face covering, worn to protect against catching and spreading infection.

There's a good reason this is our word of the day; face masks are the subject of debate in Sweden and worldwide at the moment, due to the role many scientists believe they play in preventing the spread of infection. 

Sweden is one of only a minority of countries that hasn't introduced rules for the general public on wearing face masks (a munskyddskrav or 'face mask requirement') in public areas like on trains, buses or in shops.

In Sweden there is no such requirement, although in Skåne the public transport operator has given out free masks to season ticket holders, and many airports also recommend their use.

The Swedish Public Health Agency argues that the scientific evidence about how effective masks are isn't conclusive enough to recommend them for the general public, given the risks they perceive, such as a false sense of security meaning that some people may wear masks rather than following more effective recommendations such as staying at home while sick or social distancing.


EU rekommenderar att tågresenärer använder munskydd

The EU recommends that train passengers use face masks

Tycker du att munskydd borde vara obligatoriska under coronapandemin?

Do you think face masks should be compulsory during the coronavirus pandemic?


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