For members


German word of the day: Deckel

You’re likely to see this word in German newspapers a lot when people are struggling financially or facing a challenging time economically. This word, alongside a few others, will help you understand what’s going on.

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

What does it mean?

It started out—and still sounds—innocent enough. Starting out from Low German’s written form Dekkel in the 1800’s, today’s Deckel (der or masculine) has a few benign uses.

It can simply mean ‘cover.’ A Deckel can be a pot or bottle lid. Its verb—bedecken—can mean to cover or to hide. A Bedeckung might refer to a covering, such as Mund und Nasenbedeckung, or ‘a covering for your nose and mouth’ that we often heard during the pandemic.

But it’s increasingly used in serious economic discussions, often when someone suggests a cap on prices or costs.

How do you use it?

In general, you can refer to a Kostendeckel, or something more specific.

To use it, just add it on as a suffix to what needs capping.

Just this week, German housing boss Axel Gedaschko called for the Scholz government to put in a Gaspreisdeckel—or a cap on the price of gas—to help tenants struggling to heat their homes and pay their utility bills amidst rising costs.

Berlin Mayor Franziska Giffey says she’s in favour of a Energiepreisdeckel, or a cap on energy prices as a whole, rather than just a cap on the price of gas.

Berliners especially might already be familiar with the word, from the time the city introduced a rent cap—or a Mietendeckel—before the Federal Constitutional Court struck it down.

What other words might I see with it?

Also in the papers recently, you might run into a similar word—Bremse—meaning ‘brake.’ Often implying a softer upper limit rather than a hard cap, like Deckel does, the federal government has said it’s working on a Strompreisebremse—or a brake on energy prices.

Finally, in the opposite spirit of Bremse and Deckel is Umlage—or ‘levy.’ The clearest recent example of this is the planned Gasumlage, or ‘gas levy,’ which will pass on higher gas costs to consumers in Germany starting in October.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


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.