How to say (or write) “bed bug” in 30 languages

by nobugsonme on January 29, 2008 · 13 comments

in bed bugs

Updated 7/14/2013

How to say “bed bug” in 30 languages?

I copied them all here, but WordPress couldn’t manage all the characters, so I made a screenshot. From Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary, © 2000-2006 K Dictionaries Ltd. (I added Yiddish).


Bosnian and Croatian: the term is “stijenica” (stee-ye-neet-sa), according to slowpoke.

Dutch: the correct modern term is “bedwants,” according to glitch.

German: the correct term is “Bettwanze” (bat-wuntse), according to Hans.

Hindi and Urdu are “Khatmal,” according to NC.

Yiddish: vantzen

Thanks, everyone for your additions!

Far from linguistic entertainment, this information may help you while traveling (know what word to use if you find something in your hotel room bed).

May also be useful for making multilingual “danger” signs to post on discarded refuse. A skull-and-crossbones also goes a long way A drawing of a bed bug along with the word “Warning! Bed bugs!” in English and perhaps another language or two that are common in your neighborhood may go a long way.  (Thanks to Winston for warning me off the skull-and-crossbones idea.  Point taken!)

Added screenshot above since characters did not all display properly.

Please download this PDF of a bed bug multi-lingual warning sign from Italian entomologist and Bedbugger reader EffeCi (Thanks, Franco!)

If you do not see it above (or if the above includes an error), please comment below to tell us how to write “bed bug(s)” in your language.  (If you cannot post the characters, you can send me a link to jpeg image or email me one.  Many thanks!

1 Winston O. Buggy January 30, 2008 at 11:39 am

I would advise you NOT to use a skull and crossbones for bed bug items. For better or for worse we live in a society that is warning over exposed (do not put dog in microwave). However certain symbols denote legal classifications and actual life and death threat levels. The skull and crossbones is one of these symbols. Ergo placing
it on couches, mattresses, boxes and other items is probably not the best of ideas as
it dilutes the meaning of this symbol.

2 nobugsonme January 30, 2008 at 1:35 pm

Updated! Thanks Winston.

3 Anxious and itching August 31, 2008 at 6:25 am

A comment on the Dutch, which I feel qualified to do having lived here for 34 years. The word “wandluis” (literally “wall-louse”, pronounce as Engl. “wandlouse”) is an old and well-known but somewhat vaguer term, with a slight inherent danger of being used to indicate any arthropod crawling up the wall. Indeed some on-line dictionaries give it as the Dutch for bedbug, but the term used preferentially in Dutch information now in my direct experience is “bedwants” (pronounce as Engl. “bed-once”). As Dutch contributor Andijvieblaadje (don’t bother trying to pronounce) points out in this forum post, the phenomenon is still very new here. I had to convince my doctor on the phone first that it wasn’t fleas, lice or mosquitoes, and then he had to go away for an hour to look up the information, then call me back. In Amsterdam de-infestation is done by the municipal GGD, though they charge for their services. I hope I’m not going to need them.

4 nobugsonme August 31, 2008 at 9:18 am

Anxious and Itching,
Thanks for the information!

Can you enlighten us to the law regarding tenants (renting their flats) and bed bugs in Amsterdam? Are they, or landlords, responsible for payment? (If you have any relevant links about that, I will add them to the FAQ on this.)

I also hope you don’t need the GGD to treat.

5 glitch September 27, 2008 at 10:09 am

I understand from the apparently nascent Dutch site that in The Netherlands the costs are for the tenant, because this is something the landlord cannot prevent. However, if an infestation occurs or “does well” via holes in the walls for instance, which are the landlord’s responsibility, then the landlord is liable for the repair. I have no links to this as yet.

The bedwants site is as yet very small, completely in Dutch, but does contain a very germane life-cycle drawing . Worth looking at if you think that all bedbugs you may see will be as big as half a centimetre (a quarter of an inch) across. It is my personal experience that they may be much smaller.

Further the GGD site has info in Dutch about bedbugs, all pretty much standard stuff to date. I think the atmosphere here could be described as “the calm before the storm”.

Thanks for your hope. I’m still hoping too.

6 glitch September 27, 2008 at 10:23 am

NB glitch is the former Anxious and Itchting.

7 nobugsonme May 14, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Update 5/2009:

Added screenshot above since characters did not all display properly.

Added link to PDF of a multi-lingual warning sign from Italian entomologist and Bedbugger reader EffeCi (Thanks, Franco!)

8 nobugsonme May 14, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Please, please, please tell us how to write “bed bug(s)” in your language!
We know you’re reading this! 😉

9 slowpoke July 18, 2009 at 2:29 pm

As I’ve been going through what is hopefully just bb paranoia while living overseas, I have learned that the word for bb in Croatian/Serbian/Bosnian is: buha

10 slowpoke July 20, 2009 at 5:26 am

Oops, sorry, I had that wrong. Buha is flea. The correct word in Croatian or Bosnian is similar to the Slovenian word “stenica.” The word is “stijenica” (stee-ye-neet-sa).

11 NC August 2, 2009 at 12:47 am
12 Hans July 14, 2013 at 5:20 pm

The correct german word is “Bettwanze” (spoken like bat-wuntse)

13 nobugsonme July 15, 2013 at 12:33 am

Thanks, Hans! Correction made.

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