German word of the day: Pfiffig

Think someone is cute, smart and sexy? Germans have one word to describe all three.

German word of the day: Pfiffig
Photo: Depositphotos

Pffifig. A term I'm sure many of us aspire to be, even those of us that haven't heard the word before. 

When broken down, “Pfiff” simply describes the sound of a whistle (Pfeifen is the actual act of whistling). But the word has a few additional meanings.  

For example, something that has “Pfiff” possesses a certain charm or alluring quality. Snazzy or stylish might be an apt English equivalent. Additionally, someone who has Pfiff is someone who knows the ropes. A competent worker or someone who is getting the hang of something is gaining Pfiff.

Therefore, when someone is described as “Pfiffig,” it can refer to any, or all, of the above definitions. Adept and shrewd, someone described as “Pfiffig” can be both competent and alluring. Someone has the “it” factor. 

Celebrities George and Amal Clooney, both often described as being 'Pfiffig'. Photo: DPA


“Rebecca ist eine echt pfiffige Frau.” 

“Rebecca is smart as a whip, great at her job, and overall I'd like to be her friend.”

I may have taken it a bit too far; Here, a better translation: “Rebecca is a very clever, capable woman.”

“Man könnte sagen, dass Indian Jones pfiffig ist.”

“You could say that Indiana Jones is foxy.”



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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.