German word of the day: Gucken

You're likely to hear this common (and at first confusing) word a lot in Germany. We break down exactly what it means.

German word of the day: Gucken
A woman working from home 'guckt' at her computer screen. Photo: DPA

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.

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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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.