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False friends in German

[deactivated user]

    Throughout the German course we encounter several words that have completely different meanings in German and in English... the so called "false friends" or "false cognates".

    This list includes only completely identical words, so I've left out other potential confusing words like "see", "rente", "bekommen" or "komisch".

    Der Rat

    German: the advice / English: an animal

    Der Schmuck

    German: jewellery / English: a fool person

    Das Tier

    German: the animal / English: the level

    Der Tag

    German: the day / English: a small label

    Die Wand

    German: wall / English: the thing fairies use

    Das Kind

    German: a child / English: a category of something


    German: an emergency / English: negation


    German: soon / English: someone with little or no hair on the scalp


    German: almost / English: quick

    Der Hut

    German: a hat / English: a small house/shelter

    Der Brief

    German: a letter / English: a short period of time

    Der Chef

    German: the boss / English: a professional cook

    Die Hose

    German: trousers/ English: that plastic tube you use to water plants

    Das Gymnasium

    German: High school / English: A gym

    Die Art

    German: the kind / English: a creative activity

    Der Fall

    German: the case / English: a season / to collapse

    Das Handy

    German: a cellphone / English: convenient/useful


    German: a fat person / English: short for Richard... I think...

    Not included in the course but amusing:

    Das Gift

    German: poison / English: a present

    The one for "mist" is also interesting.

    I'm sure there are many more both here on the Duolingo course and outside of it... can you add some more?

    February 1, 2018



    Become - bekommen.

    There is the famous story of the German who waited for some time in an English restaurant and then asked:

    When do I become a beefsteak?

    I'm including this because it actually is a problem for Germans who learn English.

    [deactivated user]

      Yes Heike, that "bekommen" is also tricky. My brain keeps tricking me into "become" which obviously allows for some amusing translations.


      How about weird mnemonics for German words? I don't want to hijack your post, but I'm shy about making my own, especially since most of my weirdest mnemonics are for words I'm studying outside of Duolingo... I kind of free-associate on the word I'm learning and use whatever image comes to mind to help me remember it. For instance:

      • die Linse (the lentil): "Linse" reminds me of the name "Linsey," so I imagine a little girl named Linsey who's doing one of those art projects little kids do where they glue different colors of lentils and beans to cardboard to make a picture

      • der Schierling (the hemlock): "Schierling" sounds like "shearling," so I imagine Socrates reclining on a shearling rug while he drinks his hemlock potion

      • die Strumpfhose (the tights): Trump in striped tights, and he's standing in a swamp ("Sumpf") because "Strumpf" is kind of like "Sumpf" plus "Trump"

      • der Pfarrer (the priest): "Pfarrer" makes me think of "farrier," so I have a vision of a country priest who does double duty as a farrier, and he's really absent-minded, so he's standing at the pulpit with a farrier's tools in his hand because he ran off to church in the middle of shoeing a horse

      • die Rutsche (the slide): I think of "Rutsche" as the sound your skirt makes if it tears when you're going down a slide ("skirt" because the word is feminine)

      • die Fausthandschuhe (the mittens): I think of the dramatic climax of the Faust myth, but Doktor Faustus is wearing mittens

      • der Stiefel (the boot): "Stiefel" sounds a bit like "steeple," so I imagine a cityscape where there are guys in boots balancing on all the church steeples, like something out of a surrealist painting

      ...and so on. Sorry, that was really long and I shouldn't hijack your post. Just seemed in a similar spirit, and I'm too shy to make my own post! Hope you aren't annoyed. :-)

      (P.S., some of these might be wrong because it's 11 PM here and I'm a bit bleary.)


      I totally can't sleep (I've been booking tickets to travel to Germany for the first time in the spring, so I'm a little wired right now) so here are a few more, in case they might amuse anyone else (although again, I may have made errors):

      • der Ahorn (the maple tree): "horn" makes me think "unicorn horn," so I imagine a guy sitting in a maple tree while wearing a unicorn headband--I always imagine him as a bit of a hipster who's always posting photos of trendy "unicorn food" on Instagram, and that's why he's sitting in a maple tree while wearing a unicorn headband

      • die Kachel (the tile): I'm a Mozart fan, so "Kachel" reminds me of "Köchel number," which is the way Mozart's scores are numbered, so I imagine the score of Mozart's "Così fan tutte" on a tile bathroom floor (it's "Così fan tutte" because "Kachel" is feminine, and the title of "Così" refers to a snarky generalization of women that one of the characters makes)

      • die Raupe (the caterpillar): "Raupe" reminds me of "rape," so I think of female caterpillars on a yellow field of blooming rape (the herb, not the crime)--the yellowness reminds me of yellow caterpillars, and then I also think about how the word is kind of long and fat when you look at it visually, like caterpillars are

      • die Kastanie (the chestnut): "Kastanie" reminds me of "castanet," so I think of a woman dancing and playing the castanets, but the castanets are made out of chestnut shells

      • das Zuckerrohr (the sugarcane): male and female lions (because it's neuter) roaring ("rohr") in the middle of a sugarcane stand

      • die Beschränkung (the restriction): a woman who's been locked in a cupboard (Schrank) because she broke the restriction (Roald Dahl's "Matilda" was one of my favorite books as a kid, so I think of Matilda being locked in the Chokey)

      • das Schilf (the reed): "Schilf" reminds me of "Schild" (sign), and since it's neuter I imagine a sign for a gender-neutral bathroom stall, but the sign is woven out of reeds

      • das Dach (the roof): this was one of the first words I learned, and I happened to be watching DVDs of the singer Annette Dasch at the time, and "Dach" reminded me of "Dasch," so I think of her except that she's inexplicably neuter and she has a roof instead of a head, which makes no sense whatsoever but is so absurd that I couldn't forget it

      ...OK, I should probably stop. Cough. I've been studying about 100 vocab words a day, which is way more than I can possibly take in, but the weird images really do help. (I have similar mnemonics for verbs, but they're a bit harder to explain... like for "ernten" (to harvest) I remember that it's related to "Ernte," (the harvest), and that makes me think of "Erde" (the earth), and I imagine that the D in "Erde" has grown and expanded into the "nt" in "Ernte"/"ernten," and I think of the top of the "t" as a little sprig of new growth and of the "n" as a little mound where seeds are planted... but that doesn't make for a funny image, just a set of associations.)


      For some of your examples, there are English (or German) words that share the same roots (cf. chef = head cook = boss), so you could also use those to memorise the words:

      Linse - lense ("Linse" actually means "an optical lense"; and lentils look like lenses)

      Pfarrer - cf. parish (derived from the Greek word for "neighbourhood")

      Herd - hearth

      Beschränkung - derived from "Schranke" = usually a barrier in the shape of a bar, e.g. the thing that goes down at a train crossing to prevent cars from driving through. "Schrank" is supposed to originally mean "a container that can be locked for restricted access".

      Dach - is related with "decken" = "to cover", cf. "to thatch", "to pro-tect" via Latin (tegere = to cover, tectum = covered = roof)

      And Strumpfhose, of course, are "sock trousers". According to the Kluge (ethymologic dictionary), "Strumpf" originally meant the same as "Stumpf" = "stump", the idea being that a sock is like the "stump" of a trouser leg.

      I love my Kluge.


      Ooh, those are great! Thanks. I really like studying etymology, so I do try to stay aware of the real meanings/origins of the words, but the absurd images help me remember gender as well. For instance, it isn't hard to remember that "Fabrik" is "factory" (because of the English "fabricate"), but I initially had a hard time remembering that it was feminine, so now I think of it as a sort of giant mechanical womb giving birth to products. I love that "Beschränkung" really is related to "Schrank"... That makes sense!

      (I love finding interesting etymological connections... I always knew that "pan" was "bread" in Spanish because I have Spanish-speaking relatives, but then I got the vocab word "panieren" (to bread) and it reminded me of the English "pannier," which apparently comes from the same Latin root word for "bread." So I enjoy mentally connecting "panieren" with "pannier," even though they're more distantly related than "panieren" and "pan.")

      • 1320

      I like Panera bread; would that help someone? What does to bread mean? I have no idea.


      It was in a lesson on cooking terms... "to bread" like when you coat meat or veggies in egg and bread crumbs and fry or bake them. Like with chicken nuggets or fish fingers.

      • 1320

      ElyseGardner, of course; how dumb of me.


      No worries. Studying language does odd things to your head sometimes ;-)


      Ooh, I just looked back at this. I love the "Strumpf" = "stump" explanation. I knew "Strumpfhose" = "sock trousers," but the "stump" bit is great! Thanks. (I'm a writer, so I get really excited about those kind of things... They change the way I think about English, which makes writing in English more interesting :-))


      Well, about the "to bread" part (no reply button underneath), perhaps you'll like to know that the French version is "paner" (obvious same root as "pain", "pan"). A children's favorite (I get it's fishfingers in English) is called "poisson pané" in France :)

      Thanks by the way for the friend request, I returned it cause your associations are so clever and poetic. You should definitively make your own posts, they're deamed to be interesting :) Oh, I just see you're a writer. That should explain a lot of things! And it makes it even more of a pity we can't properly chat… That would have been extremely interesting I think. One day, let's hope…


      Thank you! I've enjoyed seeing your comments. It really is too bad not to be able to chat...

      And thanks for the tidbit! I knew "pain," but never got very far in French so I never learned "paner." So interesting. I'm struggling a bit with the writing I'm currently working on (the beginning of a book--always tough) and it's really enlightening to read comments from people who know multiple languages, since it gives me fresh perspectives on English and makes my labor a little more interesting. :-)

      [deactivated user]

        You should definitively make your own posts, they're deamed to be interesting

        I second that.


        Thank you both! I usually stay out of things on the internet, but the discussions here have been really fun, especially since I've been studying German about 8 hours a day. I'll have to see whether I come up with anything that's both interesting and Duolingo-relevant. I'm really curious about why people end up choosing the language(s) they do, but I suppose that's been asked before.

        [deactivated user]

          I've been studying German about 8 hours a day

          That's... wow. Your dedication to the cause is truly amazing.


          No one else has commented, but I hope you have a fab trip. I’ve been twice now, and LOVED it , once camping in th Black Forest and last summer a 2000 mile road trip from Austria to Rügen and back via Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

          Can’t wait to go back. I want to tour Austria properly this time.

          Where are you planning to visit?


          ErikRabbit--jeez, I didn't see this comment until now! Vienna, Salzburg, Munich, Nuremberg, Bayreuth, Leipzig, Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, Cologne, Bonn, and Frankfurt. Also hopefully a day trip to Richard Strauss's house. I'm focussing on cities this time because I really miss museums after living in the developing world for so long. I still can't really believe I'm actually going... I wrote some really long-winded comments on the post below (I don't know how to do hyperlinks here?) if you're curious. Your trip sounds completely dreamy... Would love to do similar things some day! Thank you for your kind comment. :-)



          ...I'm such a post-hijacker. (slaps hand)


          Elyse, I thought your posts were amusing and some were amazing! And I don't think anybody really minded. If you free-associate like this, you can hijack any post I make any time!


          Thank you! That's really sweet. I get way too nervous.


          For Fausthandschuh (mitten) just think of the meanings of the separate parts: Faust=fist, Hand=hand, Schuh=shoe, so it's a shoe for a hand that is made into a fist = Mitten. :)


          Yeah, I learned "Fausthandschuhe" before "Faust," so I came up with the mnemonic for "Fausthandschuhe" first... Some of the words are things I don't need a mnemonic for anymore, but I keep them around in my head because they amuse me. Like thinking of a herd of tiny male deer running around on a stovetop for "der Herd." Or for "der Rahmen" I think of Hans Memling's "Portrait of a Man with a Pink" (no idea why, it was just the first paining that popped into my head) except that the frame is made of dry ramen noodles, since "Rahmen" reminded me of "ramen" when I first learned the word. Kind of silly, but it livens up my grammar reviews a little bit. :-)


          I love "Handschuhe," though... Hard to forget! But sometimes I forget even really easy words if I don't review them for a while, so a little bit of free association helps. Even though "fist hand shoe" is a pretty memorable image on its own. And it's kind of hilarious to think of Faust confronting the devil with pink knitted mittens, or something like that... I always imagine them as the kind little kids wear, with pom-poms and knitted snowflakes or something. (Sorry, I'm really pretty bleary.)

          [deactivated user]

            How dare you Elyse?! A blatant hijack if I ever saw one... BUT... you have a music stave as your avatar and as a (very average) guitar player I will give you a pass on this one. Never got myself into reading music notation though.

            Just kidding... we're all learning here and your post is a nice addition. Don't be shy opening new discussions, if your post is any indication, people will find them interesting. :)


            Don't be so harsh with her for she accidentally added one for your list

            Der Herd (the stove) against the herd, (die Herde), a flock of animals.

            What about "das Fell -the pelt" against "to fell - fällen"

            [deactivated user]

              Sir, are you whiteknighting on my thread? ;)

              Well, I was not aware of that one... I tried to use only words that appear here on the German course even though obviously I didn't remember them all... "Rock" for instance should be there too. "Gift" was too good to miss though.

              Speaking of which I found it strange that words so common like "brille" and "polizist" for instance didn't appear on the course. I mean yes, you do get Polizei almost at the end, but you don't call a policeman "eine Polizei" surely.


              gift is still a gift in Germany, but the meaning is reduced to a deadly gift.


              Thanks for standing up for me! ;-)


              you're welcome. Are those notes, by chance, "Für Elise" by R. Schumann? That would be fitting ;-)

              I've been corrected, and correctly so. "Für Elise" is by Beethoven, not Schumann. I am ashamed. This happens when you don't read your information completely. Sorry, Ludwig


              Strauss's "Rosenkavalier," actually! I'm a little worn out on "Für Elise" because "Elyse" is my real name, so everyone would play it for me when I was a kid and too young to appreciate classical music yet. Too bad for me, since it's nice.


              Are those notes, by chance, "Für Elise" by R. Schumann?

              "Für Elise" is Beethoven's deed https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%BCr_Elise


              Haha! Aww, thanks. I'm just really shy. Glad my profile pic gets me a pass. ;-)


              Is that what mittens were called? My friends always called them Handschuhe whether they were gloves or mittens


              The words "Fausthandschuh" and "Fingerhandschuh" exist, but hardly anybody uses them. You always say "Handschuh"

              To be honest, I was not aware until just now that there is a difference between glove and mitten.

              Btw mitten in German means in the middle (e.g. mitten in der Nacht)


              I think this was great :)


              Thanks! :-) I think someone posted here once about how they remember the genders of "der Rock" and "der Tisch" by imagining The Rock wearing a skirt while building a table, or something like that... Of course I remember "der Rock" and "der Tisch" without a mnemonic by this point, but I think they're a little bit more securely engraved in my head because of that poster's image. Sometimes I get nervous and second-guess myself on the genders of words, even when they're ones I know.

              By the way, all these words are from the Babbel German course... I really love it! I did a bunch of German courses on Memrise and worked with a couple other free sites, but the Babbel/Duolingo combo has helped me the most so far. They even have a whole course on false friends, but I haven't done it yet so I don't know what words are in it.


              All numbers after a billion

              Million - Million Billion - Milliarde Trillion - Billion Quadrillion - Billiarde

              This obviously creates tons of translation issues.


              you could also include also.


              Stein: German: stone; English: an opaque container to drink beer from, which is not called "der Stein" in German, but "der Krug".

              As for "Mist", I just read yesterday how in a German episode of Star Trek a crew member looks out at a strange mist in space and asks, "Was ist das für ein Mist?"...

              [deactivated user]

                And presumably why this product here didn't catch in Germany:



                That is very funny. Also Nuno’s example. Did you ever hear of Irish Mist? It is a whiskey liquer. I swear this is true. Presume it never caught on in Germany?! I always thought a Stein was a German word and was called a Stein because it weighs a stone.


                I can't speak for other people, but when I read "Mist" together with an English word, like "Moisture" or "Irish" (haven't heard of Irish Mist, only of Küstennebel, a "misty" anise spirit), I automatically read it as English and don't feel an urge to giggle :)

                I guess "stein" is one of those loanwords gone slightly wrong, like Handy = cell phone*. There's "Steinzeug" and "Steingut", and "stoneware" in English, apparently those words all mean slightly different things in details (they all refer to a kind of material and objects made from it), but somewhere in there is the material that (beer) steins are made of.

                ...that is, if we're talking ceramic steins, because when I google pictures, I'm also shown a "beer stein glass" (Maßkrug, 1 litre glass) and "steins" made of tin (Zinnkrug - some people used to collect these, as well as engraved memorial tin plates, and put them on a shelf). So those are Krüge, but obviously not Steinzeug/-gut.

                *"Handy" is the example that's always brought up when it comes to "bad anglicisms", but my guess is that it's not derived from "handy = convenient" (as they keep claiming), but from "handphone"... and I'm not sure "Public Viewing" (when crowds watch e.g. the football/soccer world cup on a large screen) really is exclusively reserved for dead bodies - is it?


                I'm not sure I would consider most of these false friends/falsche Freunde. A good deal of them are homophones or homonyms, but their meaning is so distinct (e.g. the rat/der Rat) that few people would use them incorrectly in German. I think words like the gymnasium/das Gymnasium are better examples, as they have a clear etymological link (both derive from ancient Greek sport schools), but have taken on a different use in either language. So in this case, it might very well occur that an English speaker speaking German would use das Gymnasium, while actually referring to die Turnhalle or das Fitnesscenter.

                [deactivated user]

                  Well, I've used the broad definition of a "false friend"... words that look similar but vary in meaning across two languages. Or as you put it... some kind of translanguage homophones.


                  Why didn't you want to add see?

                  Der See / Die See

                  German: the lake / the sea

                  English: to perceive something visually

                  [deactivated user]

                    You are right... at the time of making the post I only thought of "see" as not being "sea" in English (that would be "Meer") but forgot about the visual aspect of the word.


                    Related to that:

                    Die Lake

                    German: salted water used to preserve food

                    English: a body of water


                    This brings 'Die' to my mind. German: female definite article English: to terminate life


                    The thread has become (bekommen?? ;-)) a little unreadable ... I'm not sure: Has anybody mentioned "toll" yet?

                    Toll - in English: "a tax or fee"

                    Toll - in German: an adjective meaning "fantastic, great!" and, in former times, "mad".

                    In German, we would say something like:

                    Das ist ja ein tolles Geschenk! (That's a great gift!) or
                    Ich finde es wirklich toll, dass du mir geholfen hast.

                    In former times, "toll" meant "mad". So, the "Tollhaus" was the "madhouse". You can imagine my surprise when I traveled in Scotland and saw a "tollhouse" near a bridge. ;-)

                    "Tollhaus" is still used today in the figurative sense. In my former office, we would sometimes say: "Das ist das reinste Tollhaus hier!"


                    The original name for chocolate chip cookies was "Tollhouse Cookies". Ganz toll!

                    [deactivated user]

                      Hummm... now that you mention it's been ages since an exercise comes up with the word "Toll" for me. Apparently it should because my strength bar for the word is full but I hardly remember the last time I saw it. Oh Duolingo you... More frequent is "nett" but not by much.

                      As I think they say in Germany... Ich verstehen diese Daten nicht.


                      Did we forget "der Rock - the skirt" vs. the rock - der Fels/der Stein

                      BTW: in old German, a "Rock" could have been a kind of jacket, a so called "Gehrock". That's when the proverb "das Hemd ist mir näher als der Rock - the shirt is closer to me than the jacket" starts to make sense.

                      You can still find a similar root in in "der Morgenrock" - a dressing gown.

                      Der Fund (the discovery) - the fund (der Fonds) similar only when you discover that your fund isn't worth anything anymore

                      [deactivated user]

                        Yes, "Rock" was one of the forgotten ones, I've mentioned it somewhere above.

                        Der Fund (the discovery)

                        That one is pretty close to "the find" in English... maybe there's a similar origin.

                        As for funds related stuff... we get the "Zinsen gibt es dabei nicht." which is translated as "There is no interest with this", which... even considering the context, sounds a bit odd. The word "interesting" is more often than not referring to interesting things rather than banking stuff. Maybe "This has no interest rate" would suit better.


                        Obviously, the bank is interested in generating money from other peoples money ;-)

                        Der Fund is the noun for something that you may have found - gefunden (verb: finden), so it is really close.


                        Oh, did "Lust" not get on the list yet? Similar meaning to the English "lust," but the difference is crucial! Reminds me of a translation error I've encountered frequently in Vietnam: when you spend a day at someone's house they'll often ask you to sleep with them, by which they simply mean "take an afternoon nap." The prospect of taking a nap with a near-stranger is strange enough for many foreigners, and it can be incredibly confusing and disorienting to people who aren't yet familiar with the culture. Even if you know what they mean, it's sometimes hard to shake off a sense of disorientation.


                        I always wonder if the English "wanderlust" doesn't imply slightly off connotations the word does not exactly have in German.

                        ...but I imagine it does have, in its historical context (I'm guessing at romantic era, the literature of those days gets very emotional about the beauty of nature and experiencing it), a quite enthusiastic connotation with a lot of "aaah" implied, so the English "wanderlust" isn't too far off, I guess.

                        • 1320

                        Early 20th century: from German Wanderlust


                        I find this very interesting because of my German heritage:). Great post, Nuno, as always! Know what is very cool about the German forum? Everyone seems so nice. I used to frequent another language software's forum and every time there was an issue the German learners were mean as you-know-what….but here? Not so, not at all!

                        [deactivated user]

                          The German forum is usually free of schoolkids spam but more importantly there are quite a few native Germans always ready to lend a helping hand.


                          Edit: I tried to make a sentence using: war, die, nun, will, also, hat, rot,....... but I failed. :( If I steal die wand from your list, I could have: Nun, war die Wand rot?

                          [deactivated user]

                            It would probably be a very violent sentence, better not put a nun in there... LOL

                            [deactivated user]

                              npLam are you still following this thread?


                              Also will die nun den Hut? Hat die Hut-Tag? Toll!

                              And now for something completely different:

                              (I've added apostrophes in front of the stressed words.)

                              A: Gits doe 'hate?

                              B: War 'shines gits doe hate, whence doe 'state, after 'house-dear!

                              A: Ulcer 'hop, gamma 'nigh.

                              C: Chris God!

                              A: 'Grease inner!

                              C: Was daffy inner 'bringer?

                              A: An 'hoot fear mine 'mow, zoo an way dare Humphrey Bogart!

                              C: Misty was 'doe home; domain a bore 'doe sigh... 'Mosey hulled a mall 'shower - woe 'sin den day blows? ...Ah, adds hobbies - doe 'hint cinnabar!

                              Okay! Louder K! Sixty K, b00by? Doe, after 'weazen since, decay!

                              This is Franconian, which sounds a bit like English with its diphtongs. Translation:

                              Do they sell hats here? - They probably sell hats here, if it says so on the front door. - Well then, let's go in. - Good afternoon! - Hello! - What can I get you? - A hat for my husband, like Humphrey Bogart has. - I ought to have something like that here; there ought to be a couple... I'll have to take a look - where could they be? Ah, now I've got it - there are a few over there in the back.

                              Oh, cows! A lot of cows! Do you see the cows, boy? There, on the meadow they are, the cows!

                              (from: Günter Stössel, "The Best of Nämberch English Spoken")


                              Also will die nun den Hut? Hat die Hut-Tag? Toll!

                              Yes, definitely toll. As for the cows, it looks like a fascinating read.


                              Found another one:

                              Der Ton

                              German: sound or clay (two completely different meanings)

                              English: a unit of weight


                              aktuell (current) =/= actual (literal, really)


                              Yes, and "eventuell" (possibly) vs. "eventually" (schließlich)

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                              Heike - What, they don't mean the same thing?


                              Wow, while I was pretty quick to notice every false English-French and Italian-French false friend I have encountered so far. I managed to complete the entire German tree and continue my German studies at B1 level without noticing any of the words on the list.


                              I find the word chef a bit ironic. It means boss/supervisor in French also, and I believe the word chef, in German is a loan word from French. And English got it from French also, but to us, it is a cook, or even the head cook, and more of a special kind of cook.. So in a way, it is still boss, but only a boss in a kitchen. LOL

                              [deactivated user]

                                Well, in English there's also the word "chief" but it isn't used related to the workplace... more like leaders/rulers of clans and the such.


                                Ooh, I knew the French but I didn't think of "chief"! Google says they're related? Latin "caput" (head) became Old French "chief"/"chef" and then Middle English "chief." Neat.


                                Interestingly, according to the Kluge, Latin "caput" is not related with German "der Kopf" (the head). "Kopf" is supposed to be derived from Latin "cu(p)pa" (the cup) >> precursors of German: "kopf" = "cup, drinking vessel, brain case".

                                In those olden days, the word for "head" was "das Haupt" (not "der Kopf"), which is distantly related with Latin "caput", but apparently only via Indogermanic roots which apparently also led to words like Old Indian "kapála" = "bowl, braincase, skull".


                                That's fascinating! Thank you.

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                                I couldn't find a der Kluge. Is it a language resource?

                                Edit: Is it Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache?


                                @Nuno: Yes, thanks. / @slamRN: Yes, that. :)

                                Only an updated edition (at a quick look, I only find reproductions of historical editions in English). Mentioned it before, but of course it totally gets buried in between all these comments, sorry.

                                [deactivated user]

                                  First thing that comes to mind when hearing "chief" is one from a Native tribe.


                                  Yes! That's why I looked it up... I wondered whether it might have been a newer term, unrelated to "chef," like an Anglicization of some Native American language or something. But the etymology that came up in Google made it sound like "chef" and "chief" are both Old French, and that they meant the same thing at one point? I didn't look too deeply, though... Supposed to be working. Oops.

                                  [deactivated user]

                                    And then there's the one for After, which isn't probably the most interesting one...


                                    You do get "After-Work-Partys" in Germany.

                                    [deactivated user]

                                      Not sure if I should Google it or wait for someone in the known to explain it to me...


                                      It's a party where you go after you're finished working, of course :D

                                      Also: After-Show-Party - the party after a show, often with restricted access; e.g., there was a carnival show just recently, filmed for TV, big audience including politicians and celebrities, so an "After-Show-Party" would likely include the performers, the politicians/celebrities, sponsors (if any), and other invited "important" people.

                                      cf. "Après-Ski" - [originally] a party to relax after you've been skiing in the mountains (I highly suspect that the skiing is very much optional), with alpine food and drink and bad music.

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                                      Hence: Feierabend.


                                      "Der Hut:
                                      German: a hat / English: a small house/shelter"

                                      But die Hütte means the hut(small house/shelter.)

                                      Although in the Alps die Hütten owned by the Austrian and German alpine clubs are usually anything but small.

                                      [deactivated user]

                                        HTML codes don't work here... use the asterisks for italic.

                                        Thanks for the extra information.



                                        German: bright

                                        English: opposite of paradise


                                        Oh, here's one from the course I'm taking right now: der Frack (the tailcoat) as opposed to the English "frack" (to extract oil or gas by shooting high-pressure liquid into the ground).

                                        (Free-associative mnemonic: oil barons standing around in tailcoats somewhere in the midwestern US, raising glasses of champagne in a toast to the piles of money they've just made through fracking. Not going to forget that one! I assume it's related to "frock," as in "frock coat," but the imaginary oil barons make it easier to remember.)


                                        In Germany we often use the term "Smoking" instead of Frack (tuxedo), so if your oil barons are smoking while wearing a "Smoking"...


                                        "Smoking" was actually part of the same lesson! Seems like it's a little persnickety about differences that native speakers might not care about, or which they might use interchangeably?... There are actually some words I've learned in German that I had to review in English. I always forget the exact definition of an estuary, for instance, but then my lesson gave me "die Mündung" and I was like "oh, right, it's the river's mouth."


                                        Smoking jacket in English is old term for the posh formal jackets men wore whilst having their cigars and port following dinner. The women withdrew to the (with)drawing room. Languages are fascinating...

                                        [deactivated user]

                                          Thanks to everybody who dropped by this thread and commented on it and to those who just upvoted it... 34 upvotes is really neat.

                                          Now for the language part... and incidentally not totally related to the topic.. I find interesting that the word for "colour" and "paint" in German is the same, Farbe. Does this means that "the colour of the paint" becomes "Die Farbe die Farbe"? I highly doubt it... Is there any apt substitute for either "colour" or "paint" that makes this sentence less weird, or there's just no need for that?



                                          Nope, it's "die Farbe der Farbe". You could say "die Farbe der Lackfarbe/des Lackes" makin it "the colour of the lacquer" or "die Farbe des Beschichtungsstoffes" which is "... of the coating material", but that's a very technical term. You even might change it to "der Farbton der Farbe", which is "the hue of the paint".

                                          Technically speaking, "Farbe" is just the optical impression of light of a special wave length, but it's in the context wether you refer to paint or colour. That's not weird and maybe you'll earn a smile for the pun ;-)


                                          I learned

                                          German sausages are the wurst, but German children are kinder.

                                          Very early on in my language journey. It made me laugh. I love learning German. Such a gem of a language. Thanks to everyone on this thread. I’ve Successfully procrastinated on my essay for tonight. ;)

                                          [deactivated user]

                                            Nope, it's "die Farbe der Farbe".

                                            Here I am, messing with the cases again...

                                            As if I would ever be able to pronounce Beschichtungsstoffes. In fact I just tried and it sounded quite awful.

                                            I invite all non-Germans still following this discussion to try it. :)

                                            Thanks Hannibal-Barkas


                                            Hallo Nuno! With these words, I just split them to their roots, says them slowly as a phrase, then faster and faster until it's no more a problem. Almost no more a problem ;)


                                            try it like this:bay-chick-tons-stuff. That's not exactly how it sounds, but close enough. Again, it is sufficient in the right context.

                                            • 1320

                                            Nuno - I found Beschichtungsstoffes not hard to say. I find Eichhörnchen (squirrel) much harder to say.


                                            "Eichönnchen" would be sufficiently precise. ;-)

                                            If you want a real challenge, try "Oachkatzlschwoaf" (squirrel tail, literally: Eichkätzchenschweif = oak-kitty tail), the traditional way to prove you're a true Bavarian or Austrian. Listening examples = Hörbeispiele: https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Oachkatzlschwoaf

                                            • 1320

                                            Where do you get Eichönnchen from? Would you except der Hamsterer?

                                            • 1320

                                            stepintime - I understood later what you were doing but I couldn't post any response as the Duo program wasn't responding for some reason. ;-)

                                            Thanks for the info on Hamsterer.


                                            @slamRN: I was just referring to the pronunciation of "Eichhörnchen", which you can shorten to [eichönnchen] instead of [eich-hörnchen], because I do it, too ;-)

                                            As for Hamsterer, I had to google it to see if there's a meaning to it that I haven't come across, but it seems it's really just "jemand, der hamstert" = somebody who [usually:] buys a lot of identical things (often food) to be prepared for when those things run scarce. Derived from "der Hamster" (hamster, the animal).

                                            So you might say that squirrels are Hamsterer, but normally the word refers to humans, and personally, I think "Hamsterer" sounds a bit unusual, I'd say "er/sie hamstert" instead.

                                            [deactivated user]

                                              I guess it will always depend on your native language... I can say Eichhörnchen relatively easy.

                                              Perhaps the hardest word in the course for me to say is "Außerirdischen".

                                              [deactivated user]

                                                More or less like Farbe, the word for tomorrow and morning is the same... "Morgen". It took me a while to find out that "Tomorrow morning" is "Morgen früh".

                                                This begs the question... Is "Yesterday morning" "Gestern morgen" or "Gestern früh"? Or a third alternative?

                                                Considering how the Duolingo forum is structured this topic became a bit long for a proper following but I didn't feel like opening a new thread just because of this question.

                                                Thanks in advance.


                                                Both are right and the third prize goes to "gestern Vormittag", (yesterday before noon).

                                                "Gestern früh" is more like "yesterday, early morning"

                                                [deactivated user]

                                                  Danke Herr Barkas.

                                                  • 1320

                                                  Nuno - When it comes to anything to due with time, Germans have many ways to express the same thing; I find.

                                                  [deactivated user]

                                                    True that... then can be incredibly specific.


                                                    I would also upvote this thread if I knew how Nuno. Could that be those tiny up and down arrows I sometimes hit by mistake and then immediately ‘undo’ them just in case I do something silly? Anyway, instead I will give you a lingot, even I know how to do that.


                                                    Nope... I don’t....

                                                    • 1320

                                                    Marian - Hehe, yes just click on ^ for up-vote; if you try to take it away you end up by down-voting, it will not go to a no-vote. And, to give a Lingot, click on Give Lingot on the person's post that you want to reward; a pop-up should say something like "You're about to give a Lingot away! Are you sure you love this comment so much?"; then click OK. I hope this helps.


                                                    So, about schmuck, there’s an interesting detail here: It’s a false friend because it entered English not from standard German, but from Yiddish, in which it means “penis.” Sorta like calling one’s testicles “the family jewels!”

                                                    • 1320

                                                    I think of that every time I see that word.


                                                    Das Fell (the fur) and "hell" (bright/light) are two that come to mind right now... "Gift" is the one that I always think of first! I always have horrific images of someone confusing them. And also "Sinn"/"sinnvoll," though it doesn't quite fit your criteria.

                                                    [deactivated user]

                                                      Yes, "hell" is quite interesting too... unfortunately it's not on the course. Quite a common adjective, you would expect it to be in there.


                                                      Can I add some suggestions/edits? Kind (english version) - Category or being nice Tag (english) - A small label or a game for kids.

                                                      [deactivated user]

                                                        A tag as a game for kids? Didn't know that one...


                                                        Here, Nuno :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tag_(game) (If you're curious, in French we call it "jeu du loup": what is it in Portuguese — assuming it exists?)

                                                        By the way, your original post is as interesting as the rest of the thread, and I mean a lot :)

                                                        [deactivated user]

                                                          Ahhh, I see, one of those games... it's called "apanhada", a play on the verb "apanhar" (to catch) in Portuguese.

                                                          Nowadays when I think about games it's either videogames or board games, I completely forgot those kinds of physical traditional games. Another popular one is of course hide-and-seek or, as Google Translate tells me, "cache-cache" in French. Hummm... I suspect I could easily memorize that one.

                                                          Thank you for the compliment and the additional info... a double thank you so to speak.


                                                          Well, we're the ones to "forget" about it. Will some kids not even know them? I don't really think so, but who knows? They are (were?) good simple fun.

                                                          Google is right, "cache-cache" was one of my favorites, when I was not "hidden" in a book ;) It must also exist in Portugal? Loved board games, but was alone too often :)

                                                          The info was no big effort, and the compliment is sincere :)

                                                          [deactivated user]

                                                            It must also exist in Portugal?

                                                            Yes, it's the aforementioned "Apanhada" (broadly "to catch" in Portuguese).


                                                            So "apanhada" is both "hide and seek" and tag? They were a little different where I grew up: in the first, you didn't even have to run, and the second implyied no hiding. I actually heard of a hybrid version in an older children's book. Is "Comtesse de Segur" known at all outside of France?

                                                            [deactivated user]

                                                              "Apanhada" is the tag one. Hide-and-seek is "Escondidas". Sorry for the misunderstanding.

                                                              The verb "apanhar" means catch, the verb "esconder" means hide. From there the words were adopted to each game.

                                                              Is "Comtesse de Segur" known at all outside of France?

                                                              I remember my mom talking about that book.


                                                              This whole discussion is great. Educational, funny and interesting. Well done whoever started it, must scroll back when I manage to get to the end of it, hopefully before midnight. Tag is a great childhood game, however even the adults are getting in on the game - I heard that tag rugby is a fast growing game for adults. I see them playing it in the park, think it is a non physical version of rugby.

                                                              [deactivated user]

                                                                This whole discussion is great.

                                                                Thanks Marian.

                                                                Indeed, but the discussion got too big for it's own sake... Duolingo's forum structure is not suited for long discussions... Ironically the biggeer and thus more interesting the discussion gets the harder it becomes to read and follow. Some replies are even out of place. There are a lot of interesting stuff in here.

                                                                Awesome contributions by ElyseGardner, Valbelie, Stepintime, Hannibal-Barkas, npLam, slamRN, FerrianAG and others, including Heike who've made the very first comment but I suspect lost the plot halfway the thread.

                                                                Thanks to all.


                                                                There is also the common misconception er=he, sie=she and es=it, but really, they're pretty much all he-she-it.

                                                                Example: The tree is green = Der Baum ist gross It is green = Er ist gross

                                                                The tree is an "er" because the grammatical gender or whatever is masculine for some random reason. This also creates big problems for German-speakers learning English, since they think er-sie-es = he-she-it, so they think "the tree" is a "he" rather than an "it".

                                                                It's really confusing, I know, but that's just how it is, so live with it.


                                                                Hallo, Ferrian. You're mostly right, but "groß" would rather be "big", while "green" would be "grün". Don't you worry, I have those brain gliches all the time :)

                                                                [deactivated user]

                                                                  Just came across another one in my latest practice:

                                                                  Das Boot

                                                                  German: a boat / English: footwear item

                                                                  Of course with only one different letter its origin might be the same.


                                                                  Lager... camp in German and a drink in the UK, not to be confused with what I call Beer.


                                                                  German: Lager, short for Lagerbier: beer that could (in pre-fridge times) be stored for a longer time than other kinds of beer. To store = lagern. (Apparently the English word is used in a broder sense than the German one, though.)


                                                                  Yes, increasingly so. In my (UK) youth, beer usually just meant the drink made from hops. The European drink made from grain was what we called lager. As you say, I think beer covers both now. We never worried about how long it would keep. And as for putting it in the fridge, sacrilege!


                                                                  What I meant was: Wikipedia says that the English word "lager" covers all bottom-fermented beer (I was too lazy to look up that word for my last comment), while the German "Lager(bier)"... doesn't.

                                                                  I've found this more detailled explanation: in "the middle ages", beer was prone to going bad. In the 14th century, bottom-fermented beer was introduced (you might know that in beer-brewing there's yeast that floats and yeast that sinks), which made the beer less perishable, but needed lower temperatures. This (and a law) meant that beer could only be brewed when it was cold, and so it was stored for the summer in a cool place in wooden casks, which made it "Lagerbier".

                                                                  Other bottom-fermented kinds of beer besides Lager are e.g. Pils, Helles, Schwarzbier, Rotbier, Exportbier. Top-fermented beers include Weizen/Weiße, Kölsch, Alt, stout and ale.


                                                                  I've really been enjoying your comments. Thanks for adding your research/knowledge.

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