German word of the day: Die Buchmesse

With the world-renowned Leipzig Book Fair starting Thursday, let’s have a look at the German word for book fair: Buchmesse.

German word of the day: Die Buchmesse
Photo: Depositphotos

Buchmesse is a combination of the words Buch, which means book and Messe, which means fair. Messe is a word that has different meaning in German, according to its context.

SEE ALSO: Weekend Wanderlust: A love letter to the eastern German city of Leipzig

When you use Messe in a church context, it means to hold a service. However, when you use it in an economical context, it simply means 'an event, where companies show and sell their goods'.

The Leipzig Book Fair —  Leipziger Buchmesse — is such an event. The book fair in the Saxon city has taken place every year since the 17th century and is currently the second biggest book fair in Germany, following the Frankfurt Book Fair.

For four days each year, some 197, 000 international visitors come to the exhibition grounds, a few miles from the city centre of Leipzig. Around 2,600 exhibitors present their goods, varying from books to comics to film merchandise.

The focus of the fair is the contact between readers and authors, and there is a different partner country every year. This year, this partner country is the Czech Republic.


Gehst du dieses Jahr auch zur Buchmesse?

Will you visit the book fair this year?

Ich besuche die Leipziger Buchmesse seit zehn Jahren.

I have been visiting the Leipzig Book Fair for 10 years.


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German phrase of the day: Lügen haben kurze Beine

This phrase tells you why you should try not to lie.

German phrase of the day: Lügen haben kurze Beine

Why do I need to know Lügen haben kurze Beine?

From the serpent in the Bible to the spectacular fall of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (see the Spiegel cover below with the title ‘one lie too many’), lying has always been morally and socially unacceptable.

Yet everyone lies. Anyone who says otherwise is probably telling fibs. Past research has suggested people lie once or twice per day on average. So, the Germans have found a unique way of tackling lies with this proverb.

What does it mean?

Lügen haben kurze Beine (which sounds like this) literally translates to ‘lies have short legs’. In English you might say: ‘the truth will out’ or ‘lies won’t get you far’.

This proverb was reportedly first found in a German dictionary as early as 1663. As you might expect, this saying is based on the idea that someone with shorter legs can’t run super fast – the metaphor being that a lie won’t escape, it will be found out.

The moral of the story is that honesty is the best policy because nothing can run away from the truth. This symbolic proverb is taught to many German children by their parents. 

But what about white lies? In German, they are pleasingly called Notlüge (emergency lies) and we all know that sometimes not telling the whole truth is appropriate or needed in certain social situations. We’ll look at this in more detail in a future word of the day. 

Use it like this:

Irgendwann wird er mein Geheimnis entdecken, denn Lügen haben kurze Beine.

At some point he will discover my secret, because the truth will out. 

Lügen haben kurze Beine, vor allem im Internet.

Lies can’t get far, especially on the internet.

Ich rate Ihnen, heute die Wahrheit zu sagen. Lügen haben kurze Beine.

I advise you to tell the truth today. Lies won’t travel far.