German word of the day: Krökeln

Today’s word of the day is one that will not only be interesting for English-speakers, but also for all readers who don’t live in or around Hannover.

German word of the day: Krökeln
Photo: Depositphotos

Let’s say you stay at a German hostel in Berlin. One night, some guy asks you if you want to join him and some friends for some krökeln in the lounge. Don’t be confused; he isn’t trying to insult you or to invite you to a fight – he just wants to play foosball with you.

The strange-sounding word krökeln is solely used in the northern German city of Hannover and its surrounding regions. In most other regions in Germany, the word kickern is more common.

Even though the German in Hannover has a reputation of being one of the accent-freest German a person could have, it still has its regional differences. Krökeln comes from the old-Hanoverian word Krökel, which means iron bar.

A foosball table consists of a football team that’s lined up on various bars, that used to be made of iron. So as complicated as the word might sound, its origins are actually quite simple.

Players at the German Foosball Federation, playing 'eine Runde krökeln' in Hanover. Photo: DPA


Willst du eine Runde krökeln?

Would you like to play some foosball?

Krökeln ist ein Wort, das “Tischfußball spielen” bedeutet.

Krökeln means “to play foosball.”

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 phrase of the day: Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen

Anyone struggling with learning German (or any big skill) could use this popular piece of reassurance.

German phrase of the day: Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen

Why do I need to know this?

If you’re getting down on yourself for not doing something you are still learning just right – be it playing the piano or speaking German – you can gently comfort yourself with this phrase. Or you can confidently cite it to reassure your perfectionist friend or family member that they are indeed making great strides towards their goal.

What does it mean?

Literally translated as “There is still no master which has fallen from the sky,” the expression gets the idea across that no one is born – or comes pummeling down from the heavens – as an expert at something.

Rather they become a Meister (or at least halfway decent) through continuous hard work and discipline. 

READ ALSO: 12 colourful German expressions that will add swagger to your language skills

The saying is similar to the also widely used “Übung macht den Meister” (Practice makes the master) or the English version: Practice makes perfect. 

Not surprisingly, Germans – who pride themselves on industriously reaching their goals – have several other equivalent sayings. They include “Ohne Fleiß kein Preis” (There’s no prize without hard work) and “Von nichts kommt nichts” (Nothing comes out of nothing).

Where does it come from?

The popular phrase can be traced back to the Latin “Nemo magister natus”, or no one is born a master. Another version is “Nemo nascitur artifex” or no one is born an artist. This explains why so many languages have similar expressions.

What are some examples of how it’s used?

Sei nicht so streng mit dir selbst. Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. No one is born perfect. 

Mein Trainer sagte, es sei noch kein perfekter Schwimmer vom Himmel gefallen.

My coach said that no one is born a perfect swimmer.

READ ALSO: Six German expressions to entice your Wanderlust