German word of the day: Klartext

Imogen Goodman
Imogen Goodman - [email protected] • 19 May, 2023 Updated Fri 19 May 2023 17:30 CEST
German word of the day: Klartext
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

German isn't the most straightforward language in the world, but if you're trying not to beat around the bush, this helpful word is precisely what you need.


Why do I need to know Klartext?

Because this is a word you're bound to hear everywhere - from your word processing software to discussions with a friend, and it's useful to know when you're in the mood for being upfront. 

What does it mean? 

Das Klartext (pronounced like this) quite literally translates as plain text: a computing term describing documents that generally contain readable text and nothing else. 


It can be used in this context when, for example, you want to copy and paste words into a new document without inserting all of the custom formatting like font type, size or colour. However, like many of these digital neologisms, it's also taken on a colloquial meaning that is often repeated by politicians.

In fact, if you turn on the radio on any given morning, you're bound to hear public figures boasting about their straight-talking ways - or urging their opponents to speak more honestly - by using the phrase "Klartext reden" (to speak plainly).

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In everyday contexts, however, you can use it to encourage a friend to stop beating around the bush or to praise someone who has a knack for phrasing things in a simple and upfront way. 

It fulfils a similar function in a sentence as the words "simply put" or "to put it plainly", which can also help signpost that you're not about to mince your words.  

Use it like this: 

Lassen Sie uns in dieser Frage Klartext reden. 

Let's speak openly about this question.

Es ist an der Zeit, dass wir die Fakten auf den Tisch legen und Klartext reden.

It is time that we put the facts on the table and speak plainly.



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