German word of the day: Sau

German word of the day: Sau
Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash/Nicolas Raymond
Though you might associate this word with a visit to the farmyard, this useful prefix is a great addition to your German vocab.

If you are wanting to sound like a local, adding Sau to your dictionary is a great first step. This short word literally means Sow, or a female pig, and can be used as a slightly vulgar insult towards someone, so be careful when first trying it out. 

When used as a prefix, however, sau can strengthen a description in place of an adverb. For example, you could say something is saublöd (really stupid) or saukalt (really cold). In these cases, sau adds emphasis and acts in the same way as sehr (very) or echt (really). 

The prefix, despite its unpleasant literal use, doesn’t always denote something negative. You could also say a particularly hot day was sauwarm (very warm) or, if you really want to fit in with the locals, you could describe something as saugeil (really cool). 

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Geil

Pigs and pork feature a lot in German colloquialisms and the list of German idioms is full of sausages and Schweine. It is not surprising, therefore, that the prefix sau can be used so universally within the language. 

It is thought that the sau came into use because of pigs’ association with dirtiness, and not caring about how muddy they become when enjoying the pleasure of bathing in a mud bath. 

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The use of the word dates back to the early nineteenth century; you can find countless recordings of the word sauwohl, or ‘bloody good’, relating to the boundless pleasure a pig experiences when wallowing in the dirt. 

Although this is a very common word, be careful when using it in formal situations. It is the equivalent of the English ‘damn’ or ‘bloody’ so can sound slightly crass in the wrong circumstances. 

Examples

Bei meiner Arbeitssuche hab ich Sauglück gehabt.

I had amazing luck with my job search. 

Red doch nicht so saudumm daher!

Don’t be so silly!


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