When we go in the jungle, we must apply insect repellent.

1] My translate: Wenn wir im Wald gehen, muessen wir einen Insektenshutz gilten.

2] Google translate: Wenn wir im Wald spazieren gehen, müssen wir Insektenschutzmittel anwenden.

To apply: gilten, anwenden, auftragen.

Which one should be used and when?

  • When I put the sentence into Google translate, it's Wenn wir in den Dschungel gehen, müssen wir Insektenschutzmittel anwenden. I think your #2 would mean something like "When we go for a walk in a forest, we have to use insect repellent."
    – RDBury
    Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 8:22
  • 3
    What do you associate with "gilten"?
    – Paul Frost
    Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 9:14
  • 3
    Notes to the translations: "jungle" literally means "Urwald" or "Dschungel". "Wald" is more generic "forest" or "woods". The wording "im Wald gehen" is a bit unusual. I think you mean "go into the jungle". This would be "in den Urwald gehen" (or "in den Wald gehen"). In my understanding I might use "im Wald gehen" (instead of "in den Wald gehen") to emphasize "im Wald" in contrast to other locations e.g. on the street. Depending on stress and tone it could also emphasize "gehen" in contrast to other kinds of movement, but this does not make sense in the context or insect repellent.
    – Bodo
    Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 11:28
  • @Bodo: "but this does not make sense in the context or insect repellent" - I disagree. Actually, it makes quite some sense to me that I might consider insect repellent specifically for walking within a forest, whereas I might not consider the necessity when driving the same route, as I'm pretty much protected from mosquitos while staying inside the closed car. Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 13:33
  • @O.R.Mapper You are right. I did not think of driving a car with closed windows.
    – Bodo
    Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 16:05

3 Answers 3


Anwenden and auftragen both work, but have a very dry and theoretical touch (auftragen could also apply to jam on a slice of bread). One would probably read them in the package insert, but I don't remember having them heard in conversation.

Two other suggestions are:

  • einsprühen (... müssen wir uns mit Insketenschutzmittel einsprühen, English: spray ourselves) obviously works only for sprays
  • einreiben (similar in use as einsprühen, the direct rub in translation) works for ointments and liquids.

"gilten" is not a German word. The only remotely similar word is "gilt", which is one specific form of the verb "gelten", but that verb doesn't apply here.

As for the others, "anwenden" is more generic in that it can be used of any kind of (counter-)measure, while "auftragen" explicitly conveys the idea of rubbing something onto your skin.

  • 1
    (nitpicking: in the context of a repellent/creme it is rubbing onto my skin, otherwise there is other translation^^) Commented Jan 28, 2021 at 7:11

In the context of an insect repellent that comes as a creme or lotion, both "anwenden" and "auftragen" can describe the same action. But the basic meanings of the verbs are different.

"Anwenden" has a more basic meaning like "to apply". "Auftragen" in this context means something like "to spread (something on something)" or "to coat (something with something)". In other contexts, "auftragen" can have additional meanings, for example with hand-me-down clothes ("er trägt den Pullover seines älteren Bruders auf") or with assignments ("sie trägt ihm auf, den Hof zu kehren").

So if your insect repellent is a creme or lotion or something similar, you can apply ("anwenden") it by spreading it ("auftragen") on your skin. But if the insect repellent is, say, a spray, you would apply ("anwenden") it by spraying ("einsprühen") yourself with it.

"Anwenden" has, of course, a much broader spectrum. You could for example apply a mathematical operation to a data set, "eine mathematische Operation auf einen Datensatz anwenden". In this case, there's (hopefully) no smearing involved at all ;)

And as others have already said, "gilten" isn't a proper German word, there's probably some misunderstanding involved here.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.