German word of the day: Trauer

You’ll see this sad word in the headlines a lot at the moment.

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

Why do I need to know this word?

Because it describes a core human emotion and often appears in news stories when important public figures pass away.

What does it mean?

die Trauer is the German word for “grief” and describes the deep emotional pain over a loss or misfortune.

It comes from the verb trauern which means “to grieve,” but be careful not to mix it up with the verb trauen which means “to trust”.

Language experts believe that the modern German word trauern can be traced all the way back to the Gothic language – an ancient East Germanic language which has been extinct since the 6th century.

It’s believed that the Gothic word driusan, which can be translated roughly as “to fall down” or “to become dull, powerless” became trüren in Middle High German and eventually trauern in modern German.

In German, Trauer is used to mean “grief,” “sadness” and the grieving process itself. You may already be familiar with the adjective traurig meaning “sad” and you’ll also hear it appearing in the word Trauertag – “a day of mourning” – especially at the moment. 

Every year in November, Germany has a Volkstrauertag (literally “the people’s day of mourning”), the German version of remembrance Sunday, when people gather to remember the victims of the two world wars. 

Use it like this:

Keiner sollte während der Trauer alleine sein

Nobody should be alone during their grieving period

Mit tiefer Trauer haben wir die Nachricht vom Tod Ihrer Majestät Königin Elizabeth II. erhalten

It is with deep sadness that we have received the news of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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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.