If you ever travel to the northern parts of Germany, chances are high that you stumble across someone who greets you with a heartfelt “Moin!“ And if that surprises you, don’t worry, you are not the only one.
Moin means “Hi”, “Hello”, “ Good morning”, “Good night” and everything in between, as long as it is used to greet people.
It is used primarily in the northern German parts of Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, Hamburg, the western parts of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the northern parts of Lower Saxony.
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Below that line, called the “moin-Grenze”, people usually greet each other by saying Hallo (“hello”) and Guten Tag (“good day.”)
Interestingly enough, Moin hasn’t always been used exclusively in the north. It has been around for about 200 years, and back then Moin was also used in Berlin and Switzerland.
The exact origins of the word are therefore a bit hazy. Actually, there is a possibility for different origins, depending on the region it’s used in. The most common origin, though, is the Low German word moi, which means “good”, “pleasant” or “nice.”
The Dictionary of Lower Saxony supports this theory. The Duden defines it similarly, by stating it comes from the East Frisian word mōi and the Middle Low German word moi(e), which also means “good“.
Moin has been growing in popularity during the last few years. It now can be heard all over Germany and is used especially by young people, due to its casual sound.
Hey there! (Moin moin is a common modification of the single Moin)
Moin, wie geht’s Ihnen?
Hi, how are you?
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