An exclamation combining ‘fern’ (far) and ‘Prost’ (the German word for cheers), Fernprost is used when it is not quite possible to clink your beers together at the table. The term Prost itself, or in full ‘Prosit’ comes from the Latin verb ‘prodesse’, meaning to agree with.
Used in the subjunctive, the expression literally means ‘may it agree with you!’.
Germans are often quite insistent that everyone’s glasses touch during a round of cheers and so have invented a new word for situations where someone is just out of reach. Though you may have heard this shouted by groups of locals in bars and restaurants, stretching their arms across a table to try to reach a friend’s drink, the term has taken on a whole new meaning during the pandemic.
Now that most toasts are happening at a distance of 1.5 metres, or in front of our laptop screens, the Fernprost has become something of a necessity and the term is more likely to evoke images of a bottle held up to a webcam than an outstretched hand in a bar.
A cheerful ‘Prost!’ at the beginning of a dinner or meet-up is so embedded in the German drinking culture that the socially-distanced Fernprost has become a routine part of virtual events during the upheaval of lockdown.
A faraway cheers may seem bittersweet for many Germans, for whom an evening spent drinking beer with friends was such a core part of the social culture. Many will be longing to once again hear the sound of glasses clinking together in a crowded bar or Biergarten.
Es ist immer noch möglich, sich mit Teamkollegen zum Feierabendbierchen zu treffen, zwar mit Fernprost.
It is still possible to meet up with colleagues for an after work beer, just with a long-distance cheers.
Ich kann dich nicht erreichen, du bist zu weit weg. Fernprost!
You are too far away, I can’t reach you. Cheers from afar!