Stranger Things – “absetzen”

Hello everyone,

and welcome back to a new episode of the hype series

Stranger Things

And the title of today’s episode is

absetzten

 

Now you’re like “Wait, we got tricked. This isn’t Stranger Things!!! This is bloody Prefix Verbs Explained.”
Yeah, that’s right. The dreadful series is back! And unlike Stranger Things which will start to suck and at some point come to an end, prefix verbs explained sucked from the beginning and will never be taken off the air.
And speaking of taking off the air… with that we’re already right at the meanings of absetzen. So we might just as well continue ….

Setzen is the German brother of to set and but it’s better and more helpful to think of it as what I like to call a placement verb. There are three main placement verbs in German – stellen, setzen and legen. They all are about positioning things or beings in space. Or an abstract reality in a broader sense. #helpful
I don’t want to go into detail about that… like… ever…. but in a nutshell, stellen is about “putting something upright”, legen is about “putting something horizontally” and setzen, the least common one, is used when neither of the other two fits. #helpful_increases
Anyway, let’s just think of setzen as a really vague idea of putting, setting.
Now, the prefix ab- can lend two notions to a verb. One is separation and the other one is downward.
If we combine that with this vague notion of putting, then we get something like putting ,setting down, putting aside. 
And that’s actually pretty much what absetzen is all about. That’s the core.
The problem is that… or wait, that sounds too negative… erm…. the fascinating beauty of it is that it’s used in a wide variety of contexts, so the translations vary.
So let’s go over them together real quick.

Maybe the most common meaning is to take off  in context of hats, glasses or headphones.
“And planes?”
No, not planes :).
The opposite is aufsetzen and you kind of literally put these things “on top” of your head , so absetzen for taking them off makes perfect sense.

Next up, we have absetzen in sense of putting down. Like … putting down a heavy piece of furniture to take a breath while carrying it up the stairs.
And in a more figurative sense, this absetzen is also a common colloquial word for to drop someone off.

Absetzen is also THE word for cancelling TV shows and stopping with a medication – which both kind of also have a notion of dropping in them.

Another context, where absetzen comes quite in handy are taxes, because it is the German word for to deduct (you take something off of your income, so to speak). And while we’re talking about business, absetzen is also a technical sounding word for to sell usually used for bigger numbers (just think of a drone, dropping of a package on your door).

And then, last but not least, we have absetzen with a self reference sich absetzen.
This can be used in a rather literal sense of little particles settling down on a surface.

But the more common use is the idea of setting oneself apart from.

Like for example making

pointless, short paragraphs in bold pink that hurt the eyes
and serve no purpose
.

#unique #onlyhere
And speaking of paragraphs, that brings us right over to the noun der Absatz, because this is the German word for the paragraph of a text (not for law, the word for that is der Paragraph).
Now you might be like “Wait… this meaning has nothing to do with anything we have talked about so far.”
And that’s true.
Der Absatz as paragraph is actually based on yet another use of the verb. We’ve had absetzen in sense of putting down something. But you can also absetzen a pen and THAT is about taking of the surface.

And in the second example, where Thomas explains to Maria why he doesn’t want to wear high heels, we actually see the second noteworthy meaning of der Absatz, which is heel, the part where we “set down” the foot.
Oh and just to explain … Thomas Mann is one of the most famous German authors besides Mozart and Piccasso and his sentences are really really long.
Like… when you read Der Zauberberg, you wonder why he had to make them so long. Maybe the man was trying to compensate for something else being not so long? I mean… the man was called Mann. I can imagine that this creates a bit of pressure.
But I digress.
Let’s get back to our topic and there’s one more thing we need to talk about. Long term readers will know what I mean… the r-version :).

herabsetzen

For some reason, verbs with ab- as a prefix don’t really have this pure r-version. So there is no rabsetzen. But there is herabsetzen. The best translation is probably to diminish and it can be used in context of prices as well as in a figurative sense of diminishing people.

But overall the verb is not that common and you can definitely put it on the passive-vocab pile.

And that’s it for today. Hooray :)!
This was our look at the meanings of absetzen and I hope you could see how they all revolve around a core notion of putting/setting down/of.
As always,  if you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

Ps.: Sorry about the missing quizz. I’ll add it as soon as I can :)

for members :)

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aoind
aoind

One of these days I am going to devote some considerable time to memorising your prefix verbs series. They really are key. The first thing that trips me up listening to or reading German is usually a prefix verb.

Yeast would not settle down, it would just settle. To settle down has a specific meaning, namely to become calm and uneventful again. Like the UK is going to once Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg and Michael Gove all disappear up their own fundaments.

aoind
aoind

And Nigel Farage of course…

Elsa
Elsa

Let’s just hope they DO disappear! I’m keeping my Daumen drucked!!

aoind
aoind

Keep on druckin’

aoind
aoind

Settle down can also mean to start living an unadventurous life. Live in one place, get married etc.

Ken
Ken

This is a great choice, Ed. I didn’t realize “Absetzen “ is so productive with very common meanings. Is there a place – person you can ask about thins like this- meaning of same word changing by context?

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak

If you took off your glasses and put them down, how would you say it, please ?

Susan
Susan

Ich setze meine Brille ab und lege sie hin.

Thierry
Thierry

Ich nahm deine Brille ab und legte sie hin.
Ich setzte deine Brille ab und legte sie hin also works fine but I would prefer the first sentence. :)

aoind
aoind

Ich setze meine Brille ab und lege sie hin.

In English I would say it exactly as you have. I take my glasses off and put them down. I might say “set them down” but that would sound quite formal and old fashioned.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

Or at least deliberate – “He took the glasses off and set them down carefully on the table.”

Alison Rostetter
Alison Rostetter

probably ‘abstellen’

NN
NN

In Russian language you have both words.
Deutsch Absatz pronounced abSatz (yeah .. :) ) meaning the same as in Deutsch, and paragraph which means section.
And there is also so called Absatz – indentation which is also komisch :)

NN __
NN __

*absAtz

Nev
Nev

Wenn du alle dieser Worte sammelst und in einem Buch “absetzt” würde ich viel Geld dafür ausgeben und ich bin sicher dass andere würden auch!

If you collected all these articles and put them in a book, I would pay several hundreds for them and I’m sure others would too!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Be STIMMT Nev. ich auch!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Don’t forget about “sich absetzen” also meaning “to abscond” or “to defect”. I always hear something like, “Diese Immigranten kommen hierher und setzen sich sofort ab!”

Jake
Jake

In the sense of “to cancel, discontinue, etc.”, is absetzen similar to einstellen?

Thierry
Thierry

Yes exactly :)
Die Fernsehsendung ist eingestellt/abgesetzt worden.

I would say that the word “abgesetzt” is only used in specific topics like television shows etc.

Eingestellt is more commonly used in Services like:

Der Service wurde eingestellt. or Die Eisenbahnlinie wurde eingestellt.

Jake
Jake

Thanks, Thierry and Emanuel.

Susan
Susan

How about sich absetzen as in to disappear in order not to be found? “Er hat sich nach Südamerika abgesetzt.”

Veena
Veena

Woww da jetzt ist ja wirklich toll… vielen Dank.

Elsa
Elsa

Hi, Emanuel,
Two little, tiny typos:
“sellm” (sell)
“over all” (overall)
And there’s the one our friend aoind has already found!

I’m sure you’ll do just fine in Canada. Ich Drucke dir die Daumen!! (my keyboard has no umlauts!)
Bis nachstes Mal!

Mark
Mark

Hi Elsa! Just FYI it’s also considered correct to add an “e” after the letter when it needs an umlaut. So “drücke” is actually the same as “druecke,” although the version with umlaut is slightly easier to read.

Elsa
Elsa

Danke shoen!

LR.
LR.

Do you have an article about the use of this pure r- prefixes vs heraus? That would be really helpful. thx!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thank you!

Diana Klimov
Diana Klimov

Absolutely TOP explanations!

yargila
yargila

Thanks for explaining how you get der Absatz to be both heel and sentence, makes sense now!
I do appreciate these prefix lessons

Alison Rostetter
Alison Rostetter

I often say that these verbs are like English’ phrasal verb’s: put something on, put someone up, take off, take something off. We use verbs with a preposition or adverb and in German they use the different prefixes. My favourite example is ‘bringen’: zubringen, aufbringen, unterbringen und of course – umbringen! They need to be learned and best with an example for something to hold on to in time of need.

GlennNYC
GlennNYC

McGuffin! Is that not from Hitchcock/Trufaut dialogue?
/
/

Diego
Diego

Ich habe in meiner Heimat 5 Jahren Deutsch gelernt und wohne in Deutschland seit 4 Jahren. Damals habe ich vieles von Foren und Website gelernt aber seitdem ich täglich von der deutschen Sprache umgeben bin, ging alles viel schneller.
Aber das hier ist spektakulär! Ich lerne immer was neues auf diese Website. Keep the good work!

tsanstef
tsanstef

Doesn’t der Absatz also mean a heel (of a shoe)?

James
James

Just wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who had a part in the sponsorship program. It really does help. Danke schön!

Anonymous
Anonymous

very nützlich finde ich. Danke sehr !

Jinksy
Jinksy

Boo it’s just not the same workout the quiz :(