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die Grapefruit or die Pampelmuse

Most of the vocab and phrase books I have use die Pampelmuse for grapefruit but an older one uses die Grapefruit. Please can anyone tell me which is correct? Is it a regional thing like Apfelsine and Orange?

January 8, 2019



Hi Ali,

What a wonderful question! Really!

When I was a child I was tought the word 'Grapefruit'. When I first heard 'Pampelmuse' I couldn't stop laughing. And at home we used to say 'Apfelsine', later I learned that 'Orange' is the same.

In both cases both names are fine. I can't tell you if there is a regional bias but I know and learned both.



it's the same and you can use the denotation you prefer.

best regards, Angel


Interesting. I think I only learned the word grapefruit in my English class in school. Why would anyone replace such a lovely word like Pampelmuse with Grapefruit? I think it’s one of the funniest words we have in German.

Interesting stuff from Wikipedia:

Verschiedene Zitrusfrüchte sind durch Kreuzung aus der Pampelmuse entstanden. Durch Kreuzung der Pampelmuse mit der Mandarine entstand die Orange. Die Rückkreuzung von Orange und Pampelmuse ist die Grapefruit. Durch eine erneute Rückkreuzung von Pampelmuse und Grapefruit entstand wiederum die Pomelo.[1] Umgangssprachlich wird im Deutschen meist nicht zwischen Pampelmuse und Grapefruit unterschieden.

The orange is the result of a cross between a mandarin and a Pampelmuse. (Never knew that.) And backcrossing the orange with the Pampelmuse resulted in the grapefruit. So Pampelmuse and Grapefruit are actually different, if related fruits with different Latin names.

Man lernt nie aus!


They are both used and I think Pampelmuse more to the north, as it is of Dutch origin like Apfelsine. But strictly spoken they are not the same, what only matters if you speak to biologists.
Pampelmuse originally was, what is called pomelo in English. From an interbreed of this species and mandarin originated oranges. Lateron oranges were interbred with pomelos again what lead to grapefruits. Grapefruits are much sweeter and replaced the Pampelmuse but the name stuck in some regions. To make it even more complicated, quite recently grapefruits were interbred with pomelos again and the result is now called Pomelo in German.


Sorry, I didn’t see your post while I was writing. I didn’t mean to “copy” your explanantion.


Though there may be technical/biological differences, I'd say both words are 100% interchangeable. I can only guess that Apfelsine (maybe even Pampelmuse but I'm not so sure about that) is prevalent in the North, because it has this Dutch/Low German ring or origin to it. One can still guess that Apfelsine literally means "Chinese Apple". If you are really into words (like copywriters or poets) you may find that Grapefruit has this fresh modern (English / International) ring to it. So you would describe the taste of -let's say- an energy drinks surely not like mit Pampelmusengeschmack. And a french cuisine inspired chef wouldn't call his next ice-cream dish not Apfelsinen-Schokoladen-Eis. I guess he'd prefer Orangen-Schokoladen-Eis as it sounds more Mediterranean.


Thanks to everyone for your help and advice. Out of all the words I've learned so far, Pamplemuse is my favourite German word. All the best, Ali

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