Hygiene Theater

What is hygiene theater?

Hygienic tactics performed to make people feel safer

Hygiene theater is when people and businesses enact measures to make people who are anxious about the spread of germs feel safer but do little to actually prevent spreading. This performative act became prominent in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Where did hygiene theater come from?

Atlantic writer Derek Thompson is credited with coining "hygiene theater" when he documented ineffective covid tactics in July 2020. The name comes from the intention of deploying safety measures that are more "for show," like a play in a theater, than to actually be effective.

Hygiene theater tactics may come from sincere attempts at curbing the spread of covid that have been proven unhelpful. However, they are most often disingenuous attempts to make potential customers who are anxious feel safe to shop in-store again.

Examples of hygiene theater

Hygiene theater may appear as various cautionary practices, such as temperature checks at building entrances, QR codes for digital menus in restaurants, touchless condiment dispensers, or deep cleaning of surfaces in homes and businesses. While these measures have proven to be ineffective, they are still heavily employed.


As more people get fully vaccinated I hope we can finally do away with all this hygiene theater

Some people get carried away with hygiene theater

Related Slang


Updated June 14, 2021

Hygiene theater definition by Slang.net

This page explains what the slang term "Hygiene theater" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the Slang.net team.

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