Word of the Day – “die Enttäuschung”


That’s the title? There ain’t no “noch” in it. Nor “become fluent in 2 days”. Just some stupid noun that nobody needs. What a “let noun”. Brrrr…. and those puns. They make me cringe. Man, almost 4 weeks into 2014 and still no noch… I’m sooooo disappointed. I don’t know if I should even bother with this episode. I mean, come one… the topic is

die Enttäuschung 

Who cares? I don’t know what it is but I’m sure it is boring. A noun ending in -ung… hmmm… I wonder what the gender might be… oh it is feminine. What a surprise. Just like ANY other noun with that ending. I read that on About.com like 10.000 years ago.  And let me guess… just as ANY other word with that ending it comes from a verb, right? It does? Wow. Now I’m really intrigued. But in an unexpected twist of events, the verb it comes from is entration’zyr which is an old, very old word that was used for dark demon magi… oh wait, it isn’t. It comes from enttäuschen, probably a combination of  täuschen  and one of those annoying prefixes ent. Was that separable? I don’t remember… I think the rule of thumb was something like, when a prefix contains no other vowel than “e”, it is inseparable. I don’t know what a vowel is though. I know towel. And bowel. God, I already can’t focus. So…  the prefix ent … now THAT would be a cool topic. But no… it’s just stupid Enttänshiong or … uh something. Ent. Ent. That makes me think of The Lord of the Rings. They first appear in the “The two towers”. Did you know that the title is actually a reference to the events at the twins? Tolkien was so impressed with the other R.R.’s work that he chose this way to send his regards. I red that on the wed somewhere…
But anyway, so the ents put an end to Saruman’s hold on the country and I think the German ent can do the same… in a way. Like… enthaaren which means to remove hair or entwickeln  which literally means to unwrap. The actual translation is to develop because, I guess, unwrapping is basically removing an envelop… envelop, develop. Envelop, develop. That is kind of dumb though, when you think about it … as if fridges, computers and the string theory have always been there and humanity just unwrapped them. German is really dumb sometimes. Hey, if all humans are the humanity, are all authors the authority? And the ice bears  the ice bearity? Just wondering… I really can’t focus on German today. Where was I … uh yeah, ent… part of its meaning is putting an end to things.
And so we get to  täuschenTäuschen is the core and heart of Enttäuschung and it means…  but oh no.Of course Emanuel will have us suffer through some boring history first. So ,the origin of täuschen is a word tiuschen which meant “to fool someone into something”.  And for a while, tiuschen was also a word for to trade. Haha. Yeah. I can see that. There is quite a bit of cheating going on in trade. However, using the same word for fooling someone and trading maybe isn’t such a good idea. Doesn’t build much trust, I guess. So the bastard tiuschen soon split into a light and a dark side. The light side is  tauschen. Now, this split happened before money got to dominate all the trading which is why tauschen today basically means to exchange. I give you something, and you give me something in return.

  • Wir tauschen Telefonnummern.
  • We exchange phone numbers.
  • Früher gab es viel Tauschhandel.
  • Back a few hundred years there used to be a lot of barter (exchange trade).

The German word for the money based to trade is handeln. So, tauschen is the light twin. The dark twin is täuschen. It has been stripped of all notion of trading or exchange and only the fooling part remained. That’s why it today means to deceive.

  • Ich täusche dich.
  • I fool/deceive you.

There is also a reflexive use of it, which is quite common. You basically deceive yourself about a matter.

  • Ich habe mich in dir getäuscht.
  • I deceived myself about you. (lit.)
  • I was wrong about you.

So, this was the history. That wasn’t as boring as I thought actually. For once. Now, we have the parts ent with its meaning of ending things and täuschen as to deceive. So enttäuschen should literally be

  • to undeceive

Let me see what it really means… oh my god… check this out. It means

  • to disappoint

Wow. This is explains so much. My god. So when they want to say:

  • You have disappointed me.

they are actually saying:

  • You have undeceived me.(lit.)
  • Du hast mich enttäuscht.

Or when they want to say this:

  • I am disappointed.

they would say:

  • I have been undeceived… or in other words… I see the truth now.
  • Ich bin enttäuscht.

Like… as if reality is mostly worse than the expectations. I don’t know about you but in my opinion this totally shines a new light on the German meh-ness.  You know… this lack of excitement. Like… you walk up to your German friend and say

“Hey,  we’re going to this cool lake and we’ll have a BBQ, swim, sing songs
and drink beer while the sun sets. You have to come. It’s gonna be AWESOME!!!!”

and he or she is just like

“Hmmm, I don’t know, we don’t have a grill, do we? Is that even legal to
BBQ there, is the water of the lake clean enough to swim there, is it even
legal to swim there, there are probably mosquitoes, I don’t really do BBQ
because the grease drips
 into the fire and the smoke of that can cause cance

Now I understand. In their view, reality is… well…  sub-optimal. Or… a dismal bitch. And when something sounds all too pleasant… or just a bit pleasant…  then it is likely just a deception. They don’t want to get their hopes up so the certain let down will be gentle. Because as long as they are not disappointed i.e. undeceived, they are … deceived.
Okay, I don’t know if I am really making sense right now, but seriously. The word enttäuschen did evolve that way – from undeceive to disappoint – but as of today, most Germans aren’t aware of that connection at all.  It feels like two completely separate verbs. Maybe like cover and to discover. The connection is super obvious and still not everyone is consciously aware of it.
So… the verb enttäuschen means to disappoint and of course that means that the noun is disappointment.

  • Der Film war eine große Enttäuschung.
  • The movie was a big disappointment.

And there adjectives derived from the verb, too.

  • Der Film war enttäuschend.
  • The movie was disappointing.
  • Ich bin sehr enttäuscht von diesem Film.
  • I am very disappointed by this movie.

The last example also shows the preposition that comes with it… it is von. You’re “disappointed von”. I think I’ve seen also über in that context but von is the proper one.
And that’s it. Thank god, it was that short. I mean… there were some interesting bits here and there but by and large today’s word was a disappointment for me. But there’s a good side to it because now I know never to get my hopes up. Emanuel just keeps promising things and then never delivers. But now I know better. What’s that? Noch is coming really really soon? And the secret of fluency too? Yeah right, all that’ll  secrete fluently is my nose probably. And … oh my god, these puns. Can someone please tell him to stop. I’m out of here but let me set you up for 7 days of pleasant surprises.
Your week will suck!!

37 responses to “Word of the Day – “die Enttäuschung”

  1. Vielen Dank. Sehr gut. LEO


  2. Your writing is useful as it is funny… You give my German learning process another chance… Probably the last one ;)


  3. Grateful Reader

    “I think the rule of thumb was something like, when a prefix contains no other vowel than “e”, it is inseparable.”

    Like weg and her and… oh wait… ;)


    • A very fat thumb… always hits more than I wanted too :D


      • Das ist ein neuer Regel für mich. Ich habe gelernt, dass wenn man Druck auf dem Präfix setzen sollte, ist es ein trennbares zusammengesetztes Verb, und wenn das Druck auf dem Verb gelegt wird, ist es ein untrennbares zusammengesetzes Verb.


        • Ja, das ist eine richtige Regel. Was ich meine ist “ver, ent, ge, be, zer, er”… alle haben nur “e” und sind nicht trennbar und nie trennbar und “für, mit, aus, in ,ein, um, auf…” sind alle trennbar und haben alle möglichen Vokale. Für Anfänger funktioniert das ganz gut.


  4. Dachte nicht, dass ich noch etwas über Herr der Ringe lernen könnte :D

    Also wenn “enttäuschen” nicht von “entration ‘zyr” abstammt, was wurde aus diesem dämonischen Wort dann? :3


  5. dieser eintrag war die – bezüglich dieses blogs – erste enttäuschung…


  6. I’m not gonna lie, this article was kinda enttäuschend


  7. Hi! Is there a way to have this sent to my email daily? This is amazing and inspiring! Never mind! It just popped up! Haha!


  8. Keep up the funny writing! It helps me associate the word with other concepts. You’re cool.


  9. For the love of God, could you please do a post about the meaning of the word >>>>> bloß? <<<<< =D I would be very very very thankful!.


  10. No post this week would have been a real ‘Enttäuschung’. I appreciate your commitment to post every week.


  11. Super hilfreich wie immer. Ich bin im augenblick in frankreich bleiben und ich musse sagen, dass das wetter wird enttäuschend. es gibt regen und die temperatur wird kalt. es war nicht so schlecht letzte jahre aber ich war im herbst hier arbeiten.

    kommt mein deutsch weiter oder?


    • Ja, es wird besser :).

      In dem Satz “Ich bin im Augenblick in Frankreich bleiben…”, da hast du einen sehr typischen Fehler für einen Englisch-Muttersprachler gemacht… du hast versucht

      I am staying…

      direkt zu übersetzen. Das funktioniert in Deutsch absolut nicht und es klingt sehr verwirrend. Am besten, einfach normale Gegenwart und ein “gerade”

      I am doing…
      Ich mache gerade…

      Und dann “bleiben”… da wäre es besser einfach “sein” zu benutzen.

      Ich bin gerade in Frankreich.

      Und weiter…

      … die Temperatur wird kalt.

      Hier würde man sagen “Es wird kalt”, denn es ist ja immer die Temperatur :).

      Ach so… und dann noch was.

      Kommt mein Deutsch weiter, oder?

      Das ist quasi eine Doppelfrage. HIer die beiden Optionen:

      Mein Deutsch kommt weiter, oder?
      Kommt mein Deutsch weiter?

      Viel Spaß im Land von Wein und Käse!


      • zuerst…
        oh, ja genau. Ich weiß nicht, warum ich sagte dass. ich habe eine andere Fehler gemacht :p könnte es nicht sein, “ich bleibe” heißt “i stay” und “i am staying”? musst man immer “gerade” benutzen? kann ich sagen “ich bleibe gerade” oder sollte der wort “gerade” mit “sein” gehören? ( I might have made a total arse of that question :O )

        und weiter…
        ich dachte, du hast früher gesagt (in einem anderen Gespräch), sofern der satz ist nicht spezifisch, keiner verstehen kann. ich werde verwirrt :(

        ok, es tut mir leid. das weiß ich nicht, wenn du eine Doppelfrage auf deutsch benutzt, keiner es mögen.

        ja, es gibt in frankreich sehr gutes essen und getränke

        danke für deine Antwort und Geduld.


        • Zuerst:

          Also, “I do” und “I’m doing” werden normalerweise gleich übersetzt.

          Ich mache.

          Wenn es wirklich wichtig ist, das es zu einem speziellen Zeitpunkt passiert, dann nimmt man “gerade”. Das ist dann aber eher für kurze Zeiträume.

          Ich lese gerade.
          -. I am reading (right now)

          Für längere Sachen sagt man “zur Zeit”

          Ich arbeite zur Zeit an meinem Phd.
          I am working on my PhD at the moment

          Ich nicht :).
          Im Kontext mit bleiben funktioniert das nicht so gut. Es ist nicht falsch, aber es ist nicht idiomatisch.

          Ich bleibe gerade in pAris

          “Bleiben” in Deutsch ist viel mehr “not leaving” als in English, wo es auch ein bisschen “to live as in live in a flat” heißt. “Ich bleibe gerade” klingt also ein bisschen so wie

          I am not leaving from Paris at the moment.

          und gemeint ist aber

          I am in Paris.

          Deshalb sagt nimmt man in Deutsch einfach “sein”

          Ich bin gerade in Paris.

          und weiter:

          Ja, sorry :)… da hab’ ich wohl zu doll verallgemeinert (generalized). Natürlich gibt es auch in Deutsch viele Situationen, wo der Kontext Teil der Arbeit machen muss.

          zuletzt… kein Grund sich zu entschuldigen :), wenn was nicht richtig ist. Fehler sind zum machen da.


          • Yes, yes, I don’t think I expressed what I meant very well, initially. But your clarification here was REALLY helpful. I hadn’t yet read your article on “haben or sein” (which I have now read) where you do specifically mention “bleiben” as not conforming to the movement of the soul rule… I don’t know, maybe I’m inventing here, but it does seem to me that the idea of movement (specifically, actively NOT moving) is the idea of why “bleiben” needs “sein.” Well, it works for me now, permanently I think, so mission accomplished! ;-)) Looking forward to the Wo(es)!


          • alexviajero

            **“Bleiben” in Deutsch ist viel mehr “not leaving” als in English, wo es auch ein bisschen “to live as in live in a flat” heißt.**

            This is very timely. Our teacher was explaining again to us in class this week when to use “haben” and when to use “sein” when forming the conversational past tense. The idea of using “sein” when there is a change in condition made sense for the most part and in most cases, except when the verb “bleiben” came up. None of us could understand how “to not leave” as you put it, could be a change in condition, and why we would say “ist geblieben” instead of “hat geblieben”… Your explanation here, that “bleiben” means much more than “stay” in German makes perfect sense now, and I’ll share this notion with some classmates during the next class. Very informative, and many thanks!


          • I read my comment again and I actually tried to say that I think “bleiben” means less than “stay”. But now I thought about it again, and they’re just a bit different. “Bleiben” is also “to remain”, so basically we could think of it as “to not leave/go, to not change”… and that made me realize something…

            – Ich bin gegangen.

            Putting in a “nicht” has no effect on the fact that we need “sein”… and “bleiben” is basically “to not go/leave/change” just as an “own” verb… just as if we had

            – trinken – to drink


            – branken – to not drink

            That’s of course not a real verb :).
            Thanks for bringing that up. Now I have a really catchy reasoning. People do ask that a lot.
            And oh my god… 3 donations!!! I don’t even know what to say. Tausend Milliarden Sternzahl hoch Sternzahl mal Danke :)
            (Sternzahl is a number kids use if they need a REALLY high number, it can be trumped by Sternzahl+1 and of course Gotteszahl… just a little trivia)
            PS.: Wo-words are next


      • Grateful Reader

        Könntest du mal über zwei umgangssprachliche Strukturen erzählen, die anscheinend dem kontinuierlichen Tempus entsprechen, und zwar: “ich bin einkaufen”, “ich bin am Einkaufen”?


        • Also,

          Ich bin am Verben.

          Das ist die “Rheinische Verlaufsform” und sie ist in der Tat vom Inhalt her wie “I am verbing”. Sie ist allerdings (noch) eine regionale Sache und nicht überall gleich weit verbreitet. Ich zum Beispiel sage es eher selten. Und es ist schon noch sehr umgangssprachlich, sprich, man sollte es nicht unbedingt schreiben.

          Ich bin einkaufen.

          Das scheint inhaltlich auch wie “I am verbing” zu sein, es ist aber meiner Ansicht nach tatsächlich einfach eine kompakte Antwort auf

          Wo bist du?

          Was für mich mitschwingt, ist

          Ich bin einkaufen (gegangen).

          und es funktioniert so weit ich mich entisnnen kann nur mit Tätigkeiten, zu denen man gehen kann.

          Ich bin trinken.

          Das heißt NICHT

          I am drinking.

          Ohne Kontext würde ich es als

          I have gone to the bar.

          Die Rheinische Verlaufsform hingegen funktioniert für alle Verben.

          Ich bin am Trinken.


  12. Amazing! Keep it up!


  13. Just saw the link to this ‘word of the day’ and thought YES!, what a wonderful word to talk and philosophise about. And you did not disapoint me. But I might be deceived ;)

    BTW “Because as long as they are not disappointed e.g. undeceived, they are … deceived.” I would say thats the quintessence of it, but don’t you mean “id est” instead of “exampli gratia” ?!

    Toller Text!
    Danke, Dein
    Schlaubi Schlumpf


  14. Similiar to “enttäuschen” is “desillusionieren”, which also exists in English “to disillusion”. Maybe that can be a bridge.


  15. My having learned a list of basic verbs without the prefixes set me back a long way. New learners: See if you can find a book with a reasonable number of prefixes for each base verb. That way, you see verbs like täuschen and enttäuschen and get the sense of the difference. Somebody told me you will “pick up the idiomatic ones” as you go along, aber leider bin ich ein Mann, der gegen die Wand täglich sprechen muss. Looking back, you can often see the relationships, but no way you can do that while listening to speech. Once I learned about 400 of these by brute force, I understood a lot more. You once said German loves verbs; it ADORES prefixed verbs. Learn as many as you can, so you don’t learn ankommen as a brand new verb, but as a special form of kommen; abbringen makes sense, once you see it, but in the meantime, learn “dissuade”; beibringen means “teach,” in the sense of what I had to do (and learned that verb after 3+ years). If you watch SoKo, you know all about umbringen, freilassen, freikaufen, entführen, festnehmen, and ermitteln. Übringens, I find SoKo Leipzig the most understandable, regardless what people say about accents there.


  16. I love your site for providing such impressive lessons German language. It would really help all those people thinking to learn the German language.


  17. I was going to make the point that Henrik makes: the semantic evolution of Enttäuschung is very close to that of Engish “disillusionment”.

    Liked by 1 person

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