German word of the day: Die Petze

This popular word is used mostly for children who snitch.

German word of the day: Die Petze
Photo: Depositphotos

What does it mean?

The colloquial word  “Petze” means tattletale, or snitch or tell-tale in British English, and has been used since around the 18th century.

READ ALSO: 10 ways of speaking German you'll only ever pick up on the street

Usually, it is a child who squeals to the teacher or to their parents on how another child behaved wrongly, or they reveal someone’s secret by betraying their trust.

Often a “Petze” longs to receive praise for the information that they spoiled, or is eager to have the other person punished.

The classic image of children who 'petzen' to their peers, or a parent or teacher. Photo: Depositphotos/

How is it used? 

It is mainly used by younger students who like to gossip frequently. 

Most of the time, it is used in the verb form: “petzen”.


“Eric hat mal wieder der Lehrerin gepetzt, dass ich meine Hausaufgaben nicht gemacht habe.”

“Eric snitched to the teacher again that I did not do my homework”

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German word of the day: Umstritten

Not everyone agrees on everything - and there are some things almost nobody can agree on. If you find yourself dealing with the latter, you may need to make use of this German word.

German word of the day: Umstritten

Why do I need to know umstritten?

Because umstritten is a handy word that can be applied to multiple situations, but is especially useful when chatting about current affairs or the big social issues of our day. 

You’ll likely come across it while reading articles in German newspapers, or hear your German friends use it while setting the world to rights in the pub. 

What does it mean?

Umstritten is best translated as “controversial” or “disputed” in English. As usual in German, you can easily work out – and remember – what it means by breaking it down into smaller components. 

The first is the prefix um, which tends to mean “around”. Think of German words like umkehren, which means to turn around or reverse, or umarmen, which means to put your arms around someone (or hug them in other words!). 

The second component is the verb streiten, which means to argue. So something that’s umstritten is something that there are lots of arguments around, like a controversial new law, a social debate or a public figure. 

Use it like this: 

Die Pläne der Regierung waren hoch umstritten.

The government’s plans were highly controversial. 

Sein Erbe als Fußballtrainer ist immer noch umstritten.

His legacy as football manager is still disputed today.