German word of the day: Die Zukunftsmusik

German word of the day: Die Zukunftsmusik
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Today’s German word of the day is for those who dare to dream.

The word Zukunftsmusik (‘future music’) may conjure up images of exciting new instruments and electronic techno beats. But this unique German term actually no longer has anything to do with music.

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It is used today to refer to plans, illusions or projects that are unlikely to be realised any time soon, if at all. 

Whether it be an outlandish new invention, brave new business concept or dreams of becoming famous, ideas dubbed as Zukunftsmusik may be nice to contemplate but will probably never come to fruition.

In English, one would refer to such things as “pipe dream” or “pie in the sky”, or simply as false hopes or illusions.

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Despite its modern meaning, the German term does have musical origins. In the 19th century, the enemies of German composer Richard Wagner invented the word to mock the ideas about music he set out in an essay.

The term eventually made its way into everyday use, however, and is no longer used to make fun of a person.

Next time you catch yourself fantasising about a self-cleaning kitchen or a universal four-day weekend, use this word to stop yourself from getting your hopes up!  

Die Idee einer vollständig nachhaltigen Gesellschaft ist nach wie vor Zukunftsmusik.

The idea of a fully sustainable society is still a long way off. 

Das ist alles noch Zukunftsmusik.

That’s all still up in the air. 


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