What are its meanings?
“Ernsthaft” is composed out of the word “Ernst” meaning serious, grave or stern, and the suffix “-haft” (which changes nouns into adjectives).
Put together it has four meanings.
The most common one refers to something being meant seriously or sincerely, and not as a joke.
The second refers to someone’s stern and serious expression – for example a grumpy look after losing a game – or an earnest way of behaving.
The third definition describes a matter or action that is very important, insistent or weighty due to its high importance.
And the last usage refers to something being dangerous or alarming, for example when you want to convey the graveness of someone’s situation.
Two characters looking very 'ernsthaft' in the German TV movie Drachenland (1999). Photo: DPA
“Sein ernsthafter Ausdruck machte mir angst.”
“His stern expression scared me.”
“Das ist eine ernsthafte Angelegenheit.”
“This is a weighty matter.”
“Ich meine es todernst!”
“I am dead serious!”
“Das ist eine ernsthafte Krankheit.”
“This is a serious illness.”