German word of the day: Schnarchnase

This versatile German word can be used for your pet, your spouse or your co-worker - and it will always mean something different.

German word of the day: Schnarchnase
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

The word (die) Schnarchnase combines the verb ‘schnarchen’ (to snore) and the noun ‘Nase’ (nose), and so might be literally translated as ‘snore nose’ or ‘snoring nose’. 

One of its possible usages doesn’t diverge too far from this literal definition, as the word can be used to describe any person who is sleepy, dopey, groggy or woolly-headed. Often it is used as a term of endearment for sleepy pets such as cats, who might lazily rub against your hand and then collapse back into a deep slumber on your favourite sofa spot. 

You can also use it to describe any bedfellow who has a tendency to snore loudly, if you want to drop a not-so-subtle hint that they should buy you a comfortable set of ear plugs.

The less literal usage of this word is somewhat similar in meaning. The term can be used to describe someone, generally someone you relied upon like a co-worker or colleague, who has either taken a while to get something done or has bungled the process completely. 

A sleepy-headed Schnarchnase might have taken on an important task at work without being qualified to get it done on time or well. They might be the liability of the department, consistently failing to get tasks done and acting as a bottleneck to other people’s productivity. 

READ ALSO: 10 facts that help explain the German language

Even if their intentions were good, calling them a Schnarchnase can be a derisive way of calling them incompetent or lazy, and it’s something you’d definitely want to whisper behind their back rather than saying too loudly. 

On top of all of this, a Schnarchnase can also describe someone who is boring or tedious to speak to and be around. In this context, the schnarchen is more about the effect that their company has on you – and it’s very far from the endearing use that you might apply to your cat or your partner. 

If you ever hear this word being used about you, you’d best hope that it falls into one of the complimentary or affectionate categories of use, else your co-workers and friends might be trying to make a point about your performance during working hours – or maybe they just don’t like your anecdotes about your home DIY as much as you think they do. 

Use it like this:

Wir müssen ein Haus mit zwei Schlafzimmern kaufen. Ich kann nicht im selben Bett wie du schlafen – du bist eine schreckliche Schnarchnase.

We have to buy a house with two bedrooms. I can’t sleep in the same bed as you – you’re such an awful snorer. 

Es dauerte mehr als zwei Wochen, bis dieses Projekt fertig war. Es hätte nicht halb so lange gedauert, wenn Eric nicht so eine Schnarchnase wäre.

It took more than two weeks for this project to get finished. It wouldn’t have taken half as long if Eric wasn’t so incompetent.

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German word of the day: Los

This tiny German word has a huge range of meanings.

German word of the day: Los

Why do I need to know los?

Because it’s a very common word in spoken German which crops up everywhere, from yoga classes to unemployment offices. We explain how it’s used below. 

What does it mean?

The word los has a wide variety of uses in the German language – it can be a noun, adjective, adverb, interjection, as well as a prefix and a suffix.

As an adjective it means “loose” in English and is used to describe something not firmly or tightly fixed in place. This is the kind of los you’re most likely to encounter in everyday life. If a German friend asks you why you’re looking a bit down, for example, they’ll probably say:

Was ist mit dir los?

This literally means “what’s loose with you?” but is used to mean “what’s up”?

Similarly, if there’s some commotion on the street outside your office, a German colleague might ask:

Was ist da los?

What’s up there?

Los is also commonly used as an exclamation, meaning “Go!”

Riders hold their grips on the steering wheel at the start of the second stage of the Tour de France in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/BELGA | Pool

At the start of a race, for example, instead of “On your marks – get set – Go!” you’ll hear auf die Plätze – fertig – Los!

You’ll also hear this type of los as a general encouragement or as an order to someone to make a move:

Worauf wartest du? Los!

What are you waiting for? Go!

Los as a prefix and suffix

When it appears at the beginning of a verb, los expresses the idea of starting or going. The verb losgehen, for example, means “to get going”, while loslassen  – a favourite of German yoga teachers – means “to let go”.

When it appears at the end of a word, however, -los has a similar meaning to the English suffix “-less,” such as nutzlos (useless), harmlos (harmless) and arbeitslos (jobless).

Los as a noun

As a noun, das Los has a very different definition and means “fate” or “lot”. Stemming from this meaning, das Los is also a common word for “lottery ticket” in German.