German word of the day: Die Schnitzeljagd

German word of the day: Die Schnitzeljagd
An app launched so people can take part in 'scavenger huts' in Germany's Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Peter Zschunke
No, we’re not talking about hunting for thin, breaded cutlets of meat… 

Translated literally, this compound noun is rather misleading. The word Jagd translates to ‘hunt’, and when we hear the word Schnitzel we probably think of the popular meat dish. However, the Schnitzel we know and love doesn’t seem to have much to do with a ‘scavenger hunt’, which is the actual translation of Schnitzeljagd. 

Schnitzeljagd comes from the German word Papierschnitzel, which refers to scraps of paper. The term Schnitzel in this context originates from the Middle High German sniz, which roughly means Schnitt, or ‘cut’ in English. The Schnitzel, then, refers to a ‘whole’ which has been cut into thin slices or scraps. So, it’s these snippets of paper that you search for in a Schnitzeljagd, rather than the culinary dish (but if you do want the food, head to a traditional German restaurant). 

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In a Schnitzeljagd, a group of people have to follow clues or solve puzzles laid out by others in order to find those who planted the clues or a reward at the end destination. The clues don’t just have to be slips of paper, though. Chalk markings and using sticks and stones are among various other ways to play. 

In light of modern technology, Schnitzeljagd has even gone virtual. Known as Geocaching in English, participants can use GPS-enabled devices to hide and hunt for containers (‘geocaches’), marking their locations with coordinates.  

Although a Schnitzeljagd is enjoyed most often by children, there’s nothing stopping us from reliving fond memories and making the most of the summer sun by taking part in a GPS-Schnitzeljagd!

Examples

Nimmst du an der Schnitzeljagd teil? 

Are you taking part in the scavenger hunt?

Ich liebe Schnitzeljagden!

I love scavenger hunts!


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