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German word of the day: Klartext

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.

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

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).

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Na

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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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.