Germany's news in English

Editions:  Europe · Austria · Denmark · France · Germany · Italy · Norway · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland

German Word of the Day: Der Schmetterling

Share this article

German Word of the Day: Der Schmetterling
Photo: depositphotos
06:59 CEST+02:00
Despite the notorious Youtube video, this word is particularly beautiful (and German sounding).

The German translation for ‘butterfly' is, I must concede, rather less delicate than its English, Spanish (mariposa), or French (papillon) counterparts.

But Schmetterling has an interesting etymology. It derives from the east central German word schmetten, meaning ‘cream', with the diminutive suffix -ling. It was believed that witches metamorphosed into butterflies to steal cream and other dairy products. Examples:

Es gibt ungefähr 20,000 Arten von Schmetterlingen weltweit.

There are about 20,000 species of butterfly around the world.

Der Schmetterling ist das Lieblingstier meiner Tochter.

Butterflies are my daughter's favourite animal.


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


Get notified about breaking news on The Local

Share this article

The Local is not responsible for content posted by users.
Become a Member or sign-in to leave a comment.

From our sponsors

VIDEO: Three surprising facts that will make you want to visit Malta

Game of Thrones has ended but it lives on in Malta! Find out how and learn two more unexpected facts about this little archipelago in the middle of the Med.