German word of the day: Krass

Krass is a word you're unlikely to learn in German class, but rather one you'll hear in the everyday speech of Germans - particularly younger ones.

German word of the day: Krass
Photo: deposit photo

Want to improve your Umgangssprache (colloquial speech)? Krass is a very popular German word that will make you sound like a local.

It originates from the Latin “crassus”, meaning “gross” of “coarse”. In German, though, the word literally means “blatant” or “stark”, but is generally employed colloquially to intensify meaning.

If you think something is really fantastic, it can be described as krass. If something is dreadful, it’s also krass. If it’s hilarious, it’s krass, and if it’s disgusting, it’s krass.

Whether krass is being used in a positive or negative sense is usually deduced from context. It's not a word you would use in an academic setting or around new colleagues, but rather within your circle of friends or people who you already know well.

An 'Easy German' video with examples of krass and geil, another popular slang term.


Der Typ ist ein krasser Idiot.

The guy is such an idiot.

Das Café ist krass, da kann man den besten Kaffee in der Stadt kaufen.

The cafe is really great, you can get the best coffee in town here.

Do you have a favourite word you'd like to see us cover? If so, please email our editor Rachel Stern with your suggestion.

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German word of the day: Kneipe

This is a spot you might visit at the end of the working day - or Feierabend.

German word of the day: Kneipe

Why do I need to know Kneipe?

Because you may be invited to one or need to find one on the map. 

What does it mean?

Die Kniepe, which sounds like this, is the name for a pub in German where people gather to drink beverages. This isn’t a fancy cocktail bar – it’s a neighbourhood watering hole, and forms part of the make-up of towns and cities across Germany. It’s usually unpretentious, often small and in some places – like Berlin – it can be smoky. In that case, you might see a a Raucherkneipe (smoking pub) sign on the door or window. 

The word has been around since the 18th century and is an abbreviation of Kneipschenke. A Kneipschenke was a super-cramped premise where guests had to pack in and sit squeezed together.

The noun Schenke is a tavern, while Kneipe is said to come from the verb kneipen meaning “to press together” or “be close together”, which has been documented in Middle German and is a loanword from the Middle Low German word knīpen. That word is related to High German’s kneifen, which means “to pinch”. 

Kneipen don’t always have the best reputation. You might also get some suspicious looks if you crash a very local Kneipe that is used to only serving regulars or Stammgäste. But they are usually friendly and charming, and give an insight into life in Germany. So perhaps ask your German friends for a tip on a cool Kneipe to visit. Just don’t expect the staff to speak English like you usually find in hipster bars! 

If you’re hungry, keep in mind that Kneipen usually don’t serve food. Pubs that do serve hot food are more likely to be called a Wirtschaft or Lokal.

You can also do a pub crawl (eine Kneipentour machen) if you can handle the amount of booze (or switch to non-alcoholic drinks). 

How to use it:

Treffen wir uns am Freitag nach Feierabend in der Kneipe.

Let’s meet in the pub on Friday after work finishes.

Ich gehe mit den Jungs in die Kneipe.

I’m going to the pub with the lads.