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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German word of the day: Verwursten

This funny-sounding word can refer to much more than just a sausage

The verb 'Verwursten' has many meanings beyond making a piece of meat.
The verb 'Verwursten' has many meanings beyond making a piece of meat. Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Why do I need to know verwursten?

The funny sounding word verb verwursten (which sounds like this) is a term referencing a very German product (the Wurst) but with a myriad of uses beyond just sausages.

What does it mean?

Verwursten can literally mean to mix together ingredients to make a Wurst (sausage) – or anything resembling it. Manufacturers of fake meat products can also “verwursten” tofu, tempeh and the likes to make a more palatable substitute for vegetarians.

Yet it’s also slang for slapping together a bunch of ingredients – or elements of something – to make a final product. It is similar to the word verarbeiten, or to process. 

A songwriter might take aspects of a story and verwursten it into their lyrics, as could a film writer with their movie.

Where does it come from?

Not surprisingly, the word stems from the world-famous Wurst, with which Germans profess a love-hate relationship. The sausage is a staple cuisine in many parts of the country, whether Blutwurst or the Currywurst common in the capital. 

READ ALSO: Currywurst: The Berlin dish that wouldn’t exist without the British 

But despite its ubiquity, it’s not considered to be the highest quality meat around. Like its American equivalent, the hotdog, the Wurst is a processed food made up of several ingredients. Give or take, it’s mostly composed of muscle meat, salt, various spices and perhaps some intestines or other (not so) savoury parts.

A woman sells various types of Wurst at a market in Berlin-Schöneberg in May.

A woman sells various types of Wurst at a market in Berlin-Schöneberg in May. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

The sausage was recently caught up in a nationwide controversy when an investigation revealed that some Wurst products were being ‘verwurstet’ from ingredients that don’t usually belong in the recipe.

READ ALSO: The seven best and seven ‘Wurst’ German dishes

Here is how it’s useful

Ein veganer Aufschnitt wird von Soya und Zwiebeln verwurstet.

Vegan cold cuts are being made out of soy and onions.

Sie haben diese gespannte Geschichte in einem Film verwurstet. 

They made a film out of this suspenseful story. 

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GERMAN LANGUAGE

Kätzchen and Büchlein: How to make German words smaller

German grammar is notoriously difficult. But the diminutive form – used to express a smaller version of the noun - is surprisingly straightforward.

Kätzchen and Büchlein: How to make German words smaller

Diminutives are forms of words that are used to express a smaller, younger or even cuter version of a noun. They are used a lot in German, so it’s definitely worth getting to know how they work.

In English, words often become diminutive by adding the suffix -let (e.g. drop becomes droplet, book becomes booklet). In German, the diminutive form (also called die Verkleinerungsform) is made by adding either -chen or -lein to the end of the word:

das Tier → das Tierchen

the animal → the little animal

der Stern → das Sternchen

the star → the little star

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to pick the right German language school for you

Nouns with a, o, and u change their vowel to ä, ö, and ü. The e at the end of the word is usually dropped.

die Katze → das Kätzchen

the cat → the kitten

die Torte → das Törtchen

the cake → the little cake

die Blume → das Blümchen

the flower → the little flower

A selection of little Törtchen on a table.

A selection of little Törtchen on a table. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Catherine Waibel

The diminutive with -lein is used for words ending in -ch:

der Tisch → das Tischlein

the table →  the little table

das Buch → das Büchlein

the book → the little book

As you might have noticed, regardless of which gender the main noun is, the diminutive form is always neuter. See – told you it was simple!

Can you make any word a diminutive?

Pretty much. You can add the ending to any noun in German that is not itself a diminutive, e.g. Häschen (bunny) and Eichhörnchen (squirrel).

Common diminutives

There are many common German words that are diminutive, some of which you have probably been using without even realising it.

das Brötchen for example is the diminutive version of das Brot and means little bread.

das Mädchen, meaning girl, is actually a diminutive of the antiquated word die Magd meaning maid.

And lastly: Hallöchen! is a cute way to say hello there!

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