German word of the day: Die Menschentraube

While crowds are much less common in coronavirus times, this amusing way to describe a gathering of people is still worth learning.

German word of the day: Die Menschentraube
A cluster of people gather at Hamburg's Christmas market. Photo: DPA.

This German compound noun can be broken down into two parts: die Menschen (people), and die Traube (a bunch of grapes). 

Despite the word’s literal translation, its meaning has nothing to do with fruit, instead describing a crowd or gathering of people.

And when you think about it, it’s not all that unusual. Grapes cluster on a vine to form a bunch, just as individual people group together to form a crowd. The word therefore offers quite an accurate visual representation.

Photo: DPA

Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has seen busy airports, packed festival crowds and sold-out stadiums become a thing of the past, hopefully it won't be too long before 'die Menschentraube' can return to our everyday vocabulary.


Er zwängte seinen Weg durch die Menschentraube.

He squeezed his way through the crowd.

Trotz des Regens bildete sich eine kleine Menschentraube bildete sich vor der Bühne.

Despite the rain, a small crowd gathered in front of the stage.

Die aufgeregte Menschentraube strömte aus dem Stadion.

The excited crowd poured out of the stadium.


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German word of the day: Isso

Perhaps you've seen this word on social media and you're not sure what it means. Let us explain...

German word of the day: Isso

Why do I need to know isso?

Because it’s a nice colloquial expression to use if you’re feeling a little lazy since it combines a few words. It was also one of Germany’s favourite youth words back in 2016, although it’s definitely not particularly cool anymore and is used by all ages

What does it mean?

Isso is derived from the statement: ist so (short for es ist so) meaning ‘it’s like this’ or ‘it is so’ in English. When used as a response to someone’s statement, it usually means you completely agree. A good translation is: ‘right on!’, yes, that’s exactly right!’ or ‘it’s true!’.

You can also use the expression yourself to emphasise your thought. In this case you’d add it on at the end of your sentence. You often find isso used on Twitter, when someone is quoting a Tweet.

It can also be used in a more downbeat form accompanied by the shrugging of your shoulders. In this case you’re saying isso, because it can’t be helped, it’s the way it is. 

Use it like this: 

– Wir müssen gegen steigende Mietpreise in Berlin demonstrieren.

– Isso! 

– We have to protest against rising rents in Berlin. 

– That’s exactly right!

Frauen sind die besten Autofahrer, isso!

Women are the best drivers, it’s true.