German word of the day: Hüpfen

This is a great German verb for moments full of 'Freude' or just describing an especially energetic action.

Word of the day huepfen
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Why do I need to know it?

This jovial German word almost always carries a positive connotation – and is especially fun to pronounce. If you’re in an area with a lot of children (or feeling particularly carefree and happy yourself) you’ll have ample opportunities to use it.

What does it mean?

Hüpfen – which is also sometimes written as hupfen in Austria and southern Germany – is a very active verb. In English it could be translated as to hop, bounce, skip, leap or jump.

It is commonly used among children at play: if you skip with a rope, you would mit dem Springseil hüpfen. Or they might attempt to mimic the message of the nursery rhyme Fünf kleine Äffchen hüpfen auf dem Bett (Five little monkeys jump on the bed).

READ ALSO: These German children’s songs bring tears to my eyes

It’s also enthusiastically expressed by anyone experiencing a moment of glee: if you jump for joy then you would vor Freude hüpfen. And if you’re describing animals – be it a bunny rabbit or gazelle – you would also use this verb to describe how they get around.

Some commonly used synonyms are springen and jumpen but hüpfen is a word – with its upbeat, almost lyrical pronunciation – that seems to embody the movement it describes.

Where does it come from?

The exact origin of the verb – as written with an umlaut – can be traced back to the late 1700s, according to the Grimm Brothers’ Dictionary of the German language. Older German literature, including texts from Goethe, used hupfen. 

Both uses stem from the Middle and High German verb hoppen – which nowadays might sound like Denglish slang thrown around by teenagers, but whose use actually stretches back hundreds of years.

Examples of how it’s used:

Kannst du auf einem Bein hüpfen?

Can you jump on one leg?

Die Antilope hüpfte durch das Tal.

The antelope hopped through the valley.

Sie hüpfte vor Freude, als sie erfuhr, dass sie ihre lange verlorene Jugendliebe wiedersehen würde, die sie seit über 50 Jahren nicht mehr gesehen hatte.

She jumped for joy, when she learned that she would again see her long lost childhood sweetheart, who she had not seen in over 50 years.

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German word of the day: Sommerlich

Dazzling blue skies and sweltering temperatures mean summer has arrived in Germany, and if you're looking for a word to describe how that feels, this is the perfect one to choose.

German word of the day: Sommerlich

Why do I need to know sommerlich?

Because this joyful word is not just easy to remember, but is also great for describing those days in Germany when the sun is shining and everyone seems to be in a relaxed and happy mood – as well as many other aspects of summer.

What does it mean?

As you might have guessed, sommerlich (pronounced like this) is an adjective that’s very close to the English word “summery” or “summer-like”. It describes anything that is typical of this time of year, whether you’re talking about the weather, what you’re drinking or the look you’ve gone for on a particular day.

For example, if you head out to the countryside for a short summer break, you might find yourself in the midst of a sommerliche Landschaft: a summery landscape with forests and fields with wild flowers in full bloom. 

Or you could be taken by surprise by a sudden heat wave and express regret that you haven’t had a chance to restock your sommerliche Klamotten, or summery clothes. 

READ ALSO: 10 words to help you enjoy the German summer

Mostly, though, you’ll find this word used to talk about those classic summer days with balmy weather and sunny skies, or weather conditions that feel like summer – even if it’s the wrong time of year. 

If you want to say something is more summery than something else, sommerlicher is the word you’ll need, and if something is the most summery of all, it’s am sommerlichsten

Use it like this: 

Bei diesen Temperaturen will ich immer ein erfrischender und sommerlicher Getränke in der Hand haben. 

In these temperatures I always want a refreshing and summery drink in my hand.

Ich liebe diese entspannte sommerliche Tage! Es ist wie im Urlaub zu sein. 

I love these relaxed summer days! It’s like being on holiday.