German word of the day: Nix

This handy little word is versatile and will help you fit right in to informal German chats.

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

Why do I need to know nix?

Because it’s a German word that’s really short and easy to say. And once you know it, you’ll use it all the time in conversations with your German friends (and hear it a lot).

What does it mean?

Nix is the colloquial word for nichts which translates to “nothing”. You’d use this in a relaxed setting, rather than a formal one such as a job interview. 

What is interesting is that nichts can actually be quite hard for non-native German speakers to pronounce, so lots of non-Germans will say nix instead without trying for that version. But many native Germans prefer to use the slang pronunciation anyway.

And, as the tweet below by German journalist Jens Clasen shows, it doesn’t have to just mean “nothing”. You can also use it to add to your sentence, whether you want to negate or deny something.

Meanwhile, gar nix translates to “nothing at all”. 

One other thing to note that as a noun, (der) Nix means merman, the male version of a mermaid.

Use it like this:

Du musst mir gar nix erklären.

You don’t have to explain anything at all to me. 

Nix cool, das ist furchtbar!

This isn’t cool, it’s terrible!

Nix fertig, mach weiter!

You’re not done, keep going!

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German word of the day: Kneipe

This is a spot you might visit at the end of the working day - or Feierabend.

German word of the day: Kneipe

Why do I need to know Kneipe?

Because you may be invited to one or need to find one on the map. 

What does it mean?

Die Kniepe, which sounds like this, is the name for a pub in German where people gather to drink beverages. This isn’t a fancy cocktail bar – it’s a neighbourhood watering hole, and forms part of the make-up of towns and cities across Germany. It’s usually unpretentious, often small and in some places – like Berlin – it can be smoky. In that case, you might see a a Raucherkneipe (smoking pub) sign on the door or window. 

The word has been around since the 18th century and is an abbreviation of Kneipschenke. A Kneipschenke was a super-cramped premise where guests had to pack in and sit squeezed together.

The noun Schenke is a tavern, while Kneipe is said to come from the verb kneipen meaning “to press together” or “be close together”, which has been documented in Middle German and is a loanword from the Middle Low German word knīpen. That word is related to High German’s kneifen, which means “to pinch”. 

Kneipen don’t always have the best reputation. You might also get some suspicious looks if you crash a very local Kneipe that is used to only serving regulars or Stammgäste. But they are usually friendly and charming, and give an insight into life in Germany. So perhaps ask your German friends for a tip on a cool Kneipe to visit. Just don’t expect the staff to speak English like you usually find in hipster bars! 

If you’re hungry, keep in mind that Kneipen usually don’t serve food. Pubs that do serve hot food are more likely to be called a Wirtschaft or Lokal.

You can also do a pub crawl (eine Kneipentour machen) if you can handle the amount of booze (or switch to non-alcoholic drinks). 

How to use it:

Treffen wir uns am Freitag nach Feierabend in der Kneipe.

Let’s meet in the pub on Friday after work finishes.

Ich gehe mit den Jungs in die Kneipe.

I’m going to the pub with the lads.