How do Germans find new articles for new words?

Hello everyone, I've just noticed that there are foreign words that didn't exist like twenty years ago but they have gender articles;Die Region,Das Mod pack,die Features,das der die Nutella(???). I've also noticed that the gender articles can change over some time(Die Tabake (in the 40s) --> Der Tabak).Since there are lots of foreign words in German,are there any rules for new words or is there a some kind of language institution that decides what it is going to be?

December 30, 2018


Hi Melih,

this is indeed a very good question! Really!

Die Region. I don't know if this word is really so 'new'.

Brands like Nutella. Hm, people often struggle about this. I think (that's just my personal view, but I'm sure, there are studies about it) it depends on the heritage. 'Nutella' is the brand of a 'Nussnugatcreme' - 'die Creme' so some say 'die Nutella' but others learned 'das Nutella' (I'm one of them) maybe because of 'das Glas Nutella'.

I would say we often take the article of the German equivalent because it sounds 'natural'. 'Das Tempo' from 'das Papiertaschentuch' (das Tuch) but there's not really a rule. It depends on the progression of a brand, the marketing strategy and if the brand becomes a synonym of an object at all.

Same for Anglizisms / adopted English words. 'Der Flatscreen' because of 'der Flachbildschirm' (der Bildschirm). Or 'das Handy' (mobile phone) because of 'das Mobiltelefon' (das Telefon). 'Der Filmstar' is probably male because the German word for star is 'der Stern'.

But the exception proves the rule.

best regards, Angel

December 30, 2018

There are rules that German speakers have internalised. As a non-native speaker I can only approximate these rules.

Generally, "eingedeutschte" words, particularly those taken from English, will take the gender of the German equivalent, e.g. das Meeting (Treffen), die Mod (Modifikation), das Pack (Packet?).

Italian words are always feminine: die Pizza, Nudeln, ...

Occasionally the Germans don't even know. Nutella, for instance, is sometimes die, sometimes das. What they do all agree upon is that it's not der ;-)

But then there are also places in Germany that use different genders even for German words; in some regions and countries, you'll hear people use "der Butter".

December 30, 2018

Italian, French, Spanish words take the same gender as in the original:

La pasta, la nutella, la pizza, il torso, il saldo, il conto

Die Pasta, die Nutella, die Pizza, der Torso, der Saldo, das Konto

This if there is not a tradition or a name assimilable with already a well accepted gender.

December 30, 2018

But il conto (masculine), does not match to das Konto (neuter). In fact, Italian does not have a neuter gender for nouns.

December 30, 2018

Don't quote me on this!

  • As a French speaker, I find the gender of most newer "Latin" words match the traditional gender they're given in the latin languages (la région, la ragione, la región, etc.).

  • Features is plural so I guess that's why it's plural die?

  • Brands really don't matter - das Primark, der Nutella, die Samsung? Who cares!

  • Like most languages, they're obviously is a phonetic value to gender hence why die Tabake became masculine when it abbreviated (it's not like it was a person so it could have a gender associated with it).

  • Neuter words are usually put on really American words like "das Mod Pack". I play video games in German sometimes and I find when a bit long German translation is replaced with an English word, they tend to slap "das" in front of it.

  • If you're talking about compound words, the last word/part always determines the gender. All types of juice are masculine because it's der Saft - i.e. der Orangensaft (even though Orange is feminine)

-- I don't speak much German - don't take this as your new gender checklist. To every rule there is an exception

December 30, 2018

Just a note about Brands (the old "die/das-Nutella-question":), mentioned by RedAngel above),

my point of view:

The gender of a brand itself is not defined, a brand is used within a context - just used to refer something (to guess...):

Der Samsung (Fernseher) ist kaputt.

Das Samsung (Telefon) braucht ein Update.

Samsung (Firma) schließt ihren Standort (Usually no arcticle is used here) Samsung (Konzern) schließt seinen Standort...

If you don't know, what the brand refers to - just use DAS (Ding :))

January 5, 2019

I did a small study about that for my bachelor thesis. A lot of the words that come to the german language have it's german equivalent and take it's Genus(der Laden -- der Shop) The biggest part of new words just start as Neutrum because there is no rule for any other gender like endings or belongig to a semantic group. And a lot of words stick with Neutrum for a long time, some change, some don't. So if you go with DAS it will be mostly right ;)

January 1, 2019

Thanks for that. Very interesting, so my 'guess' was quite right.

January 1, 2019

I couldn't give you any rules about the gender of new words. I guess, for some of them a similar word already exists, so the gender remains (die App, die Applikation/Anwendung)(das Selfie, das Foto). For others, usage in the media might establish a gender pretty quick. As soon as new words get established, they might end up in the Duden dictionary, which is not an official standard anymore, but an unofficial one. The edition from 2017 contains 5000 new words. Being a native speaker, your examples seem a little strange to me though. "Region" has been a German word since the 15th century, I have no idea what you mean by "Mod pack", and "die Features" is indeed the plural form, the Singular being "das Feature". As for "Nutella", there are a few words for which you can choose from two or even all three articles. This is one of those words, where Germans have agreed to disagree on the gender (although they do that quite passionately).

December 30, 2018

Sorry,die Region sounded like it's a loan word,my bad. People called modders add extra content to the video games for fun and let us download their "Mod packs".That's what I meant by mod packs. (My source is this link : it says here Hinweis: Ein deutsches Floris Mod Pack Wiki (Übersetzung des englischen Wiki) ist jetzt online. My question was why mod pack's gender article is neuter.)

December 30, 2018

Looking at the website, the noun in question appears to be Pack, with Mod being the modifier (no pun intended). If that is the case, then perhaps "Pack" in this case is a corruption of "Packet" which is neuter (Collins's fifth edition lists "das Pack" as Package, but it is the third entry, so it does not appear to be in common usage).

Otherwise, "das Pack" is a mob, a rabble.

December 30, 2018

"mod pack" is just an english term addopted by the german gaming community. I guess it's a short form already, so it would be "modification package" or something. The german eqivalent would be "Das Modifikationspaket"

December 31, 2018


That existed more than 20 years ago. I'm 51 and I can remember my brother eating it when I in the first and second grade, so that's been around since at least 1974. He loved that stuff. (I can't stand it.) But then he also put sugar in his coffee. I guess he always had a sweet tooth.

Anyway, lots of languages do this. Spanish has gender for computers, mice, space shuttles, smartphones, and email messages. Spaniards usually take a cue from the ending of the word. Germans do too, after a fashion. If two words are jammed together, it's the last one that determines the gender. (e.g., flugzeug is a relatively new concept, in the grand scheme of things, but neither flug nor zeug are new concepts. they have been around for centuries. All by itself, flug is masculine, der flug. All by itself, zeug is neuter, das zeug. Put them together, and it becomes das flugzeug, taking the gender of the second part. Similarly, ModPak might be relatively new, but neither Modification nor package is. In German, the word for package is neuter, das Paket, so ModPak becomes neuter.)

December 31, 2018

We just come all together, drink a lot of beer, and whatever sounds best after a few rounds gets chosen. Spaß ;=)

December 31, 2018

Not surprised sir. lol

January 1, 2019

As far as I know "Tabak" didn't change over time. It's still
der Tabak (Sgl.)
die Tabake (Pl)

December 30, 2018

My source is : Please,pardon me if I'm wrong.

December 30, 2018

didn't even know there was a plural to "Tabak". Looked it up it's true x)

December 31, 2018

just different types of tobacco

December 31, 2018

Die Features (pl) - das Feature (sing.)

December 31, 2018
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