German word of the day: Der Hamsterkauf

Kate Brady
Kate Brady - [email protected]
German word of the day: Der Hamsterkauf
Supermarkets in certain parts of Germany have been overwhelmed in the last few days. Photo: DPA.

This word has been showing up in many coronavirus headlines in the last few days.


What does it mean? 

Der Hamsterkauf is a German word used to describe the panic buying or hoarding that occurs during times of widespread fear or concern. 

It comes from the verb hamstern, which means “to hoard or panic buy” since hamsters are known for filling their cheeks with food. 

How is it used? 

In Germany, this word has also been used to describe the rush on supermarkets that occurs before long holiday weekends when supermarkets will be closed and, as many of us living in Germany know, every Saturday night before supermarkets shut their doors on Sunday. 

READ ALSO: Aldi makes Hamsterkauf joke 

This word is most commonly used with the verb “machen,” as in the phrase Hamsterkäufe machen bei Knappheit, “to panic buy.” 

Coronavirus leads to Hamsterkäufe in Germany 

With coronavirus cases on the rise in Germany, several supermarket chains have reported cases of Hamsterkauf in their stores. 

After the first coronavirus patient was confirmed in North Rhine-Westphalia on Tuesday evening, photos of empty supermarket shelves in the Heinsberg district where he lives were already popping up on Twitter Wednesday. 

Aldi and Lidl reported an increased demand for dried food, as well as flour, baking mix, sugar, and hygiene products. In addition, stores across the country have reported selling out of hand sanitizer and face masks in the wake of the virus. 

Example Sentences: 

Meine Mama macht immer Hamsterkäufe vor den Ferien.

My mom always panic buys before the holidays.

Normalerweise kaufen Menschen beim Hamsterkauf getrocknete Lebensmittel und Hygieneprodukte. 

Normally people purchase dried groceries and hygiene products when they panic buy. 



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