Sometimes people say

"Er hat Grippe."

and sometimes they say

"Er hat Männergrippe."

When to use which? Where is the difference?

  • 19
    It's a joke referring to men to be more snivelling in contrast to women. Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 7:44
  • 2
    This should be an answer Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 7:49
  • It is a loan-translation (calque) of the English phrase "man flu".
    – fdb
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 16:55
  • 2
    @fdb do you have a source to back this up? I find it quite feasible that both terms developed separately, and even if they didn't I see no reason to believe that the translation went in this direction and not the other. Commented Aug 24, 2019 at 1:07
  • 4
    “Männergrippe” is just a cold/flu where the man is super whiny and makes jokes like this one: “While giving birth to a child a woman can get a glimpse of the pain and agony that a man suffers through while having a mild cold.” Commented Aug 24, 2019 at 7:59

3 Answers 3


Like πάντα ῥεῖ wrote, "Männergrippe" is not a real illness but a joke.

This joke bases on the assumption, men are more histrionics if they get ill than women.

In some comedy the man is shown helpless and whining because he has a cold. The woman instead organizes whole household, children and her job with a broken leg.

So the use of "Männergrippe" let you know, your conversational partner has doubts about the severity of the illness.

Then basing on the mimic you can see, if this person is joking, or really upset about this overstatement of the ill/not so ill person.

In difference "Grippe" is a real disease. It spreads fast. Sometimes, if it is wide spread one talks about "Grippewelle", and there exists vaccinations against it.

  • 4
    When someone shows signs of Männergrippe, people often comment on it with a healthy dose of mimimi.
    – Philipp
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 8:24
  • 5
    The problem with Männergrippe is the same as with Verschwörungstheorie. The word itself presupposes that there is no real disease (infection, or whatever), or that there is no real problem (criminal activity different from what official sources say). It makes discourse about factually existing issues, or about problems with official statements, difficult if not impossible. Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 12:17
  • 1
    FWIW, the actual word "grippe" is also used in English as a synonym for the flu, though it is somewhat archaic. The Spanish cognate, gripa, is in somewhat more common use. Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 16:33
  • 6
    It should perhaps be mentioned that Männergrippe can also be understood as a modern revenge for the older Frauenleiden, which originally means issues with health or well-being especially (and exclusively) of women, but may have also an undertone of "not to be taken seriously". Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 19:10
  • 2
    @Philipp But what is the healthy dose of mimimi? And the LD50? And are women resistant? Commented Aug 24, 2019 at 9:13

The word "Männergrippe" is used mockingly by women who perceive that men complain and whinge too much when they have a flu or simply a cold. The expression is not exclusively German, you can find "man flu" in English language dictionaries:

man flu

[..] (informal, humorous)

a cold or similar minor illness that a man catches and treats as if it were flu or something more serious

  • Greg was off sick with man flu, according to his wife.

(Source: Oxford Learners' Dictionaries)

Actually, it seems that men suffer indeed more from a flu than women. This may be due to the way in which the sexual hormones testosterone and oestrogen affect the immune response (see Infektionen: "Männergrippe" ist kein Mythos or Man flu is real because oestrogen protects women from the influenza virus).

In a more scientific article: The science behind “man flu” by author Kyle Sue you can read:

The concept of man flu, as commonly defined, is potentially unjust. Men may not be exaggerating symptoms but have weaker immune responses to viral respiratory viruses, leading to greater morbidity and mortality than seen in women.

Overall, evidence seems to be limited.

  • 7
    It is not only used by women. Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 8:30
  • 2
    Note that "Männergrippe" just like "Grippe" itself may be used for all kinds of colds and other typical Winter respiratory infections, not just the actual Grippe (influenza) itself, which is a serious, sometimes lethal (the lethality rate of the yearly "Grippewelle" is around 10%) illness. Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 21:04
  • True, it’s common to say that someone has the Grippe while they only have a “grippaler Infekt” / “Erkältung” (the latter translates to “the common cold”), the actual influenza (this word is understood to disambiguate) is (thankfully much more rare).
    – mirabilos
    Commented Aug 25, 2019 at 16:28
  • I would add that, in contrast to the first sentence, "Männergrippe" is also used in the case of a common cold or other minor trouble.
    – anderas
    Commented Aug 26, 2019 at 13:30

In addition to all the other entries here. I can say that when I have a "Grippe" I often refer to it as a "Männergrippe" to tell others that I am very very sick. In a joking way and with additions in "please call an ambulance for me" and so on. Very much joking and "mimimi". If a guy tells another guy he has a "Männergrippe" we often ask If we should call an ambulance too (jokingly).

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