Tiere: essen oder fressen?

I remember learning at school that the verb 'fressen' is used when talking about animals eating, not 'essen'. That's obviously not true, as 'essen' is used in these lessons.

January 8, 2012


I thought the same thing too but after some research it appears that you should really use "fressen" when referring to animals eating but you may use "essen" if they are particularly cute animals or eating very delicately (ie. a kitten). This thread was really helpful.

I'm enjoying duolingo but there are a few things that are not quite right if you have prior knowledge of German / know slang German.

May 14, 2012

I think "fressen" is closer to our word for "feeding." As in, the cat is feeding on some dead thing.

July 15, 2012

My Oma made fun of me when I said "essen" in reference to a dog. So use it at your own risk with animals.

January 3, 2014

It seems your Grandma was an educated German speaker. Some others are not.

February 16, 2014

All beeings eat. Germans transferred eating, "essen", to be the eating with fork, knife, spoon. To seperate that "dining" from the raw act of eating, they added "fr" to "essen" for all animals.

"Fressen" is also used if someone's eating like an animal or very hungry.

June 21, 2012

That's not the proper etymology. The root of this word existed in Germanic languages mother of the German too.

They didn't add anything to «essen», that's a separate root, with a different meaning.

March 27, 2018

Tiere fressen und manchmal essen. Wir essen weil wir Menshcen sind. =)

January 23, 2012

No, you are right. If you say "ein Mensch frisst" it is meant as an isult (p.e. for bad table manners) and animals do normally "fressen" although "essen" may also be used for animals. The lessons are a bit loose at times...

February 20, 2012

Halt die Fresse for example is an insult, the same than "halts maul", it's like shut up. In spanish it would be like "el animal está hartando" or "cerra el ocico".

April 15, 2013


August 11, 2013

No, that's not true, it's an insult only when applied to humans. For animal, it's the normal verb. It's only like «el animal está comiendo».

March 27, 2018

Fressen is 'eating like a pig' (wel at least it is in Dutch, so I supose it means something like that in German too)

August 15, 2012

Only if it's applied to an human being.

March 27, 2018
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