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LEARNING GERMAN

German word of the day: Die Übergangsjacke

Today’s word of the day is a two in one package: A very German word, as well as a very German concept.

German word of the day: Die Übergangsjacke
A woman in Munich with a good fleece Übergangsjacke. Photo: DPA

Die Übergangsjacke translates literally to “transition jacket.” If you want to make sense of that though, it’s easier to have a look at another translation: In-between-seasons jacket.

Yes, you read right. The German language has a one-word translation for that monster.  

The concept of the Übergangsjacke is very efficient, so let’s explain it with an example: The seasons are about to change from, let’s say, winter to spring. Now that means it’s still cold outside, but not freezing.

The sun could come out, but there might also be some rain or even snow. That could mean that a big winter coat is too warm, a jean jacket is not watertight enough, and a raincoat too sweaty.

So what you would need would be a jacket that is watertight as well as breathable, that can keep you warm but doesn’t make you sweat. And this miracle jacket is the Übergangsjacke.

There are other forms of Übergangsjacken as well, for example for the transition from autumn to winter and even from spring to summer (although that Übergangsjacke might just be a jean jacket – depends on where you live.)

But if the seasons don’t live up to their full potential and the winter feels more like spring, your Übergangsjacke can become a regular winter coat quite quickly. As you can see, it’s a flexible concept with loads of uses.

Examples

Mein Wintermantel ist zu dick, ich brauche dringend eine Übergangsjacke.

My winter coat is too thick; I need an in-between-seasons jacket urgently.

Hier sehen Sie eine leichte Übergangsjacke für Damen.

Here you can see a light in-between-seasons jacket for ladies.

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: Belastung

Sometimes things can be too hard to carry - but keep this German word to hand and you may be able to lighten the load.

German word of the day: Belastung

Why do I need to know Belastung?

Because this versatile little word can be found everywhere, from articles about contaminated waterways to discussions about teen mental health.

What does it mean?

Die Belastung (be.last.ung) can mean numerous things depending on its context, but generally it’s used to refer to a “load” or a “burden” of some kind. This can, of course, mean a physical load such as goods on a cargo train, but more often it’s a metaphorical one.

That’s why you may hear politicians in Germany talking about a “finanzielle Belastung” (financial burden) on citizens through inflation, or have a friend write to you about how their hectic new job is “eine Belastung” (a strain). 

Occasionally, Belastung can be a liability or debt, and other times it could be a heavy workload. 

If you hear it in an ecological context, it’s sadly most likely to be referring to pollution or exposure to a toxic substance.

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Beharren

Where does it come from?

The word Belastung appears to come from the noun ‘Last’ in Old High German, which was used to describe something that weighed a person down – in other words, a load. In Middle High German, ‘Last’ could also be used as a measurement to mean an abundance or large quantity of something – again, similar to the English ‘load’.

‘Last’ has the same meaning to this day and can be found tucked away in several German words with similar connotations. For example, as well as burdening someone with a Belastung, you can also free them of their heavy load with an Entlastung. Incidentally, the latter is the word usually used to describe financial relief measures taken by the government. 

Use it like this: 

Ich will an der Universität studieren, aber momentan sind die finanzielle Belastungen zu groß.

I want to study at university, but at the moment the financial burdens are too great.

Mein rücksichtsloser Freund ist eine Belastung.

My reckless friend is liability. 

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