For members


German word of the Day: Verdienstunterschied

An important term for equal pay activists or those simply wanting a wage increase.

German word of the Day: Verdienstunterschied
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Why do I need to know Verdienstunterschied?

Because it is a word which often appears in reports and debates on the topic of wage differences between men and women in Germany.

As Germany has one of the largest gender pay gaps in Europe, it’s a topic that is not likely to disappear from the headlines any time soon. 

What does it mean?

der Verdienstunterschied is a compound noun made up of der Verdienst – meaning “income” and der Unterschied – meaning “difference”.

While it can be used in a number of contexts relating to differences in earnings, it appears most often in discussions on the topic of the gender pay gap.

To talk about wage differences specifically related to sex in German, you can simply use the term Gender-Pay-Gap, or the slightly less catchy geschlechtsspezifische Lohngefälle (“sex-specific wage gaps”).

The most recent report from the Federal Statistical Office showed that, in 2022, women in Germany earned on average €4.31 per hour less than men – a wage gap of almost a fifth.

This puts the so-called unbereinigt (“unadjusted”) gender pay gap at 18 percent in Germany, though there is a clear east-west divide in the difference in earnings between women and men.

According to the statistics, the pay gap between women and men currently stands at seven percent in eastern Germany, while the western states have a much higher gender pay gap of around 19 percent.

The differences in salary between women and men are often down to the fact that women generally take up more Teilzeit (“part-time”) work and they also are more likely to have jobs that pay less.

Use it like this:

Seit 2002 ist der Verdienstunterschied zwischen Frauen und Männern fast konstant
Since 2002 the wage gap between men and women has been almost constant
Thüringen gehört zu den Bundesländern mit dem geringsten Verdienstunterschied
Thuringia is one of the German states with the smallest wage gaps

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For members


German phrase of the day: Die Butter vom Brot nehmen

If you're looking for a German phrase that describes one of the most heinous and anti-social crimes imaginable, look no further than this one.

German phrase of the day: Die Butter vom Brot nehmen

Why do I need to know this phrase?

Die Butter vom Brot nehmen (pronounced like this) is another classic example of Germans using food to describe almost any situation in life – and in this case, you can use it to call out people who always seem to be trying to get the better of you. 

What does it mean?

While normally there’s a fairly accurate equivalent to German sayings in English, in this case it’s a little harder to find a direct translation.

As you may realise, die Butter vom Brot nehmen quite literally means: “taking the butter from the bread”. It’s used to describe situations where someone takes something important from someone else, behaves a bit cheekily or tries to get one over on another person in some way. For instance, if there’s one dog at the park that always steals your dog’s ball, that would be a key example of a canine butter-thief. 

You may wonder why this scenario is so emotive for the Germans. Aren’t there worse things to take from someone than a bit of butter? 

Well, one reason could be that butter is viewed as a key component of any Abendbrot ritual: it’s the salty, fatty bit of deliciousness that can perfectly complement your salami and Sauergurke (pickled gherkins) when you’re tucking into a few slices of rye as a light evening meal. And if you find you don’t have at least an inch of butter on both sides of your belegtes Brötchen (filled bread roll), as a German you may well ask for your money back.

READ ALSO: German phrase of the day: Erste Sahne

What else should I know?

If you’d like to start using this fun expression, it’s important to note that you’ll need to use the dative case with it, as in jemandem die Butter vom Brot nehmen. This often applies when something is being given or taken, and means you’ll use dative pronouns such as dir, mir, ihr and ihm to talk about the person losing out rather than their accusative forms of dich, mich, sie and ihn.

Use it like this: 

Willst du mir jetzt auch noch die Butter vom Brot nehmen?

Now you also want to get the better of me?

Er ist ein Typ, der sich die Butter vom Brot nicht nehmen lässt. 

He’s a guy that doesn’t take any nonsense from anybody.