German word of the day: Gucken

German word of the day: Gucken
A woman working from home 'guckt' at her computer screen. Photo: DPA
You're likely to hear this common (and at first confusing) word a lot in Germany. We break down exactly what it means.

On hearing this word for the first time, many English speakers may be under the impression that a tasty treat is being prepared as, despite its spelling, this verb is pronounced ‘kuken’, quite similarly to kucken

But, in fact, the verb gucken is a colloquial synonym for the verbs sehen or schauen meaning to see or to look.

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Where does it come from?

The origin of the word is not entirely clear, although it seems to have been an adaptation of the low-German word “kieken” – first entering into common parlance from the 15th century onwards in Northern Germany. The verb “kieken”, which has the same meaning, is also still often used by many Berliners.

Gucken can also be used to build some interesting phrases such as “in die Röhre gucken”, meaning to be left out, and words such as das Guckloch (peephole), der Guckindiewelt (curious child)

This man guckt at his watch. Photo: Depositphotos/AlexLipa

Examples of use:

To see/to watch:

Hast du den Film geguckt?

Did you watch the film?

Mal gucken.

Wait and see what happens

Sie gucken Fußball jeden Samstag.

They watch football every Saturday.

To look

Was guckst du?  

What are you looking at?

Er guckt wirklich genervt

He looks really annoyed

Sie guckte mich so an, als ob ich verrückt wäre!

She looked at me like I was mad!


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