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10 German words to get you in the mood for autumn

Sarah Magill
Sarah Magill - [email protected]
10 German words to get you in the mood for autumn
Autumn - or "Herbst" - is a beautiful time of the year. Photo: Pure Vivo/Unsplash

As the air turns crisp and the leaves begin to change colour, autumn is a time of cosy comforts and hearty traditions in Germany. These are the German words that capture the essence of this magical time of year.


Der Herbst

The first, most obvious, word you need to know at this time of year is the German word for autumn (or fall, if you're an American reader). Der Herbst actually shares a linguistic origin with the English word "harvest", as both trace their roots back to the Proto-Germanic word "harbistaz", which ultimately derives from a Proto-Indo-European root "kerp-" meaning "to pluck" or "to harvest."

Originally, the term Herbst held the specific meaning of "harvest time" in German, but it eventually came to be used to describe autumn as a whole.

In the southwestern German-speaking regions, the original agricultural sense persists, with herbsten referring to the act of (wine) harvesting. In the same area, autumn is alternatively known as Spätjahr, mirroring Frühjahr (spring) in a symmetrical manner.

Der Altweibersommer

Though literally translated as "old women's summer", this German phrase is used to describe what's more commonly known in English as an "Indian Summer".

READ ALSO: 8 spectacular spas to visit in Germany this autumn

While autumn is often associated with cooler temperatures, Germany sometimes experiences a period of warm, sunny weather that graces the country in late autumn, typically in September or October. This year the country saw a very pronounced Altweibersommer, with temperatures still reaching 30C in some parts of the country in late September.

Der Eintopf

Der Eintopf literally meaning "one pot" is a down-to-earth name for a very down-to-earth German dish which is a perfect hearty treat for the colder time of the year,

The name says it all: everything goes into an Eintopf - vegetables, leftovers, broth -  and are mixed together to make a warming autumnal concoction.


Die Kuscheldecke

This lovely German word perfectly conveys the cosy feeling of being snuggled under a blanket when the weather outside takes a turn for the worse.

There's nothing like snuggling under a blanked as autumn creeps in. Photo: Amin Hasani/Unsplash

Literally meaning "cuddle blanket" a Kuscheldecke can transform any sofa or armchair into the cosiest spot on Earth in a matter of seconds.

Die Übergangsjacke 

As summer moves into autumn, the days can still be pleasantly warm, but as the sun goes down, you might be caught off guard if you've only got a denim jacket or a sweater with you. 

What you need at this time of year - is eine Übergangsjacke - which translates literally to “transition jacket.” Not as heavy as a winter jacket, but more robust than a light summer jacket, the Übergangsjacke is a practical autumnal item to have with you from October onwards.  

Die Blätter

One of the most emblematic signs of autumn is the changing colour of the summer green leaves to red, orange and yellow. In German, the word for leaf is der Blatt and the plural die Blätter. At this time of year, you might hear people saying: 

Guck mal, wie schön die Blätter sind!

Look how beautiful the leaves are!


Das Laub

Laub is another word for "leaves" or "foliage" that is more often used to talk about the leaves that lie on the ground after falling from the trees. If you hear people talking about an autumnal pavement, you might hear sentences like: 

Das Laub knirscht, wenn wir gehen.

The foliage crunches as we walk.


Wir müssen das Laub von der Einfahrt entfernen.

We need to remove the leaves from the driveway.

Brightly coloured autumn leaves. Pixabay/Pexels

Die Ernte 

Die Ernte is the German word for "harvest" or "yield" and represents the act of harvesting crops like apples, grapes, and pumpkins during the autumn months. It's a crucial part of the season in agricultural regions, which is often celebrated with an Erntendankfest - or "harvest festival".

READ ALSO: 9 unmissable events in Germany this October

Der Kürbis

It's not just the trees that turn orange in autumn. In late September, the vegetable aisles in your local supermarket will be teeming with bulbous orange produce - as Kürbis season arrives. 

Kürbis is the German word for "pumpkin" or "squash", which are the staple ingredient for many delicious German autumnal dishes like Kürbissuppe ("pumpkin soup"), Kürbiskuchen ("pumpkin pie") or even Kürbis-Curry.

A variety of pumpkins. Ylanite Koppens/Pexels

Pumpkins are also used for decorative purposes during Halloween and other autumn festivities and many towns and regions have their very own Kürbisfest (pumpkin festival) to celebrate the autumnal produce.


Die Kastanie

Another autumnal delicacy is the die Kastanie or "chestnut" in English. You'll find them amongst the Laub at this time of year and can also buy them in supermarkets. Roasted chestnuts, known as geröstete Kastanien, are a popular snack with a nutty, slightly sweet flavour.


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