Germaphobe - NO!

GermAware - YES!

Many people have been asking exactly what is the difference between a person that is a germaphobe vs. a person who is GermAware.  A reasonable question, although certainly not an easy answer.  In order to explore the topic fully, we first need to attempt to define a germaphobe. 

The word germaphobe is actually an abbreviated form of a longer term: germaphobia (or germophobia).  The combination word, germaphobia means fear of germs and likewise so does germaphobe.  In the common use of words which contain "phobia" certain negative connotations are attached.  Specifically, an irrational fear of something.  Here's a few common examples:

  • Claustrophobia - Fear of being trapped in small, confined spaces
  • Arachnophobia - Fear of spiders
  • Acrophobia - Fear of heights

For those that posses these phobias, uncontrollable physical syptoms occur and intense distress.  Countless books and counseling hours have been spent trying to help people overcome phobias so they can function in society.  Germaphobia or more appropriately mysophobia is often manifested as cases of OCD and require treatment by a qualified professional.

In today's common speech, the term germaphobe has been softened somewhat and has morphed into a word that has many meanings, some serious while others are more casual.  Rather than clinging to this somewhat negative term, a new word is necessary to describe individuals which strive to remain educated about "germs".

The word which is gaining popularity is GermAware which has variations of "germ aware" and "germ-aware."