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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German Word of the Day: Die Zweisamkeit

Zweisamkeit is a special sensation. But there's no English translation which adequately conveys the intimacy and fondness of this German concept.

German Word of the Day: Die Zweisamkeit
Photo: depositphotos

Zweisamkeit denotes the intimacy shared between two people, and usually has romantic intimations. It indicates a kind of loneliness around a pair who share a special bond. It can be conveyed by the idea of ‘twoness’ or ‘togetherness’.

Zweisamkeit is when you’re in a room full of people, but you two hide away in the corner because you only want to talk to each other. Or when the pair of you go for an intimate wander in the woods. Or you offer your last slice of your pizza to your soul mate, because they’re the only person you’d give it up for.

Often, though, it can lead to third parties suffering from Einsamkeit. The notion of Zweisamkeit is drawn from the notion of Einsamkeit, although the former suggests a warmer, less lonely feeling than the latter.

Examples:

Sie sind wegen ihrer Zweisamkeit allein in den Wald gegangen.

They went to the wood by themselves because they like to be alone together.

Ich möchte eines Tages Zweisamkeit mit jemandem erleben.

One day I’d like to experience intimacy with someone.

Do you have a favourite word you'd like to see us cover? If so, please email our editor Rachel Stern with your suggestion.

 

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Abgefahren

If you enjoy things that are a bit out of the ordinary, this German word is perfect for you.

German word of the day: Abgefahren

Why do I need to know abgefahren?

Because ironic German slang words can be pretty fun to use – and because it tells us quite a bit about what the German youths were up to back in the 1970s. 

What does it mean?

Literally, abgefahren is the past participle of abfahren – which means to depart or to leave. For instance, “Der Zug ist abgefahren” means “the train has departed”, which can either be used to say that you’ve missed your train or to indicate a missed opportunity (think of the English phrase: “That ship has sailed.”)  

But to uncover the really fun side of abgefahren, you need to know its meaning in German slang. When used in a casual conversation, abgefahren is a big happy exclamation that can mean crazy, awesome, cool, weird or even trippy. 

A word to the wise: this isn’t the most modern slang word around, so you may get some amused looks if you start using it all the time. But funnily enough, we have heard a few younger Germans drop this into conversation recently – possibly as a semi-ironic or retro statement like the words “wicked”, “phat” or “radical” in English.

Where did it come from?

As you might have guessed, abgefahren is very much a relic of the 1970s – and particularly the hippy subculture. 

When experimenting with psychedelic drugs or other mind-altering narcotics, people would depart (abfahren) to go on a fantastical journey – otherwise known as a “trip”. In the midst of their trip, they’re fully abgefahren – probably to somewhere in outer space. 

Like a lot of slang, the meaning of abgefahren became a lot more broad once it entered into common usage. A bit like the English phrase, “far out” – an exclamation beloved of hippies in the ’60s and ’70s – you can basically use it for anything cool or interesting. 

Use it like this: 

Das war echt total abgefahren.

That was totally awesome. 

Es wäre verdammt abgefahren mit ihm abzuhängen.

It would be pretty awesome to hang out with him.

 
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