German word of the day: Der Zankapfel

Today’s word of the day describes those inevitable disagreements among colleagues, friends, politicians, and maybe parking enforcement officers.

German word of the day: Der Zankapfel
Photo: Depositphotos

Der Zankapfel literally means the apple of discord, but can also be described as a bone of contention. To break down, Apfel means apple and Zank, which is a good word by itself, means quarrel, strife, or squabble.

Money is often described as a Zankapfel in various business or personal relationships, but I was first introduced to the word in a casual discussion about current affairs.

In the fall, a fellow participant at a Stammtisch was describing how the United States and Germany differed in their attitudes and treatment of Iran.

Relations with Iran, he argued, comprised the Zankapfel between the two countries. When I asked him what Zankapfel meant, he explained that various international relationships or divisive policies that governments wrangle with are often described as an apple of discord, or Zankapfel.

Synonyms, according to Duden, include das Streitobjekt, der Streitgegenstand and der Streitpunkt.

A literal 'Zankapfel'. Photo: depositphotos


Auslandspolitik ist zwischen Catherine und Joe ein ewiger Zankapfel.

Foreign politics is an eternal bone of contention between Catherine and Joe. 

Das Geld wird wird vermutlich immer ein Zankapfel bleiben.

Money will probably always remain a bone of contention. 

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German word of the day: Rücksicht

Here's how to take this thoughtful word into consideration.

German word of the day: Rücksicht

Why do I need to know Rücksicht?

Because it’s a commonly used word and knowing what it means – and practising it – will make you a better person.

What does Rücksicht mean?

Rücksicht is a feminine noun which means “consideration” or “regard”. It’s made up of the shortened form of the word zurück meaning “back” and Sicht – which means view. So literally, it means, back view, or looking back.

This literal meaning tells you something about how the word is used in German – if you look back to see what’s happened to your friend, you are taking them into consideration.

If you want to really make sure you don’t forget what Rücksicht means – you can watch the following video of Germany’s 1983 Eurovision song contest entry. The catchy ballad – called “Rücksicht” – came in place 5 of the competition that year. 

How to use Rücksicht

When using Rücksicht, bear in mind that it is usually paired with specific verbs and prepositions.

The most commonly used set phrase is Rücksicht auf etwas/jemand nehmen, which is used to mean “to be considerate of” or “to take care of” someone or something. For example:

Radfahrer müssen auf Fußgänger Rücksicht nehmen.

Cyclists must be considerate of pedestrians.

Er nimmt Rücksicht auf die Bedürfnisse seiner schwangeren Frau.

He takes care of his pregnant wife’s needs.

Rücksicht is usually followed by the preposition auf, but it can be preceded by a number of prepositions to compose different phrases. 

Mit Rücksicht auf for example, means “in view of” and ohne Rücksicht auf means “without consideration for”, while aus Rücksicht auf means “out of consideration for.” 

Here are some examples:

Führungen dürfen aus Rücksicht auf die Teilnehmer nicht aufgenommen werden.
Out of consideration of the participants, tours may not be recorded.
Er will tun, was er möchte, ohne Rücksicht auf die Anderen.
He wants to do what he wants, without considering other people.