Word of the Day – “rasten”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day in 2019, the year that looks like eros in a mirror.
Are you ready for a whole new year of crazy rules, overly precise words and gazillions of endings and endings with endings? Or in one word: are you ready for … German?
Then let’s hit of 2019 with a look at the meaning of



It looks quite similar to the English rest so if I told you that the two are actually not related, that would be kind of a surprise.
But who cares about “kind of a surprise”?
German learners are a a hard working, honest folk. They like their beers cold, their latte without milk and their surprises real. That’s how things are in this neck of the woods.
And the real surprise is that rest is actually two words that are NOT related to each other. And rasten is related to only one of them.
Intrigued yet?
Purrrrfect. Then let’s jump right in….

It sounds really hard to believe but the noun rest and the verb to rest actually come from two different families.
The noun is based on the Latin verb restare. This is a combination of the prefix re- , like for instance return, and the verb the Latin verb *stare, which simply meant to be/to stand.  Restare carried the idea of remaining and via the Romance languages (get it… I used via near Romance) it made its way to the Germanic languages and became the noun rest; or der Rest in German.

Now, it would make one billion yards of sense if the verb to rest were also part of that family.
I mean, resting usually means not moving. You “remain” on the couch.
But nope!
Etymologically, to rest and rasten most likely go back to the astonishingly ancient Indo-European root *erə- which was about the idea of resting after a day of travel.
Now, of course this doesn’t really make a difference, after all. If you want to associate to rest with the rest, that is fine. I mean… we’re trying to learn German, not to do science.
I just thought it was an interesting twist that these two words come from completely different backgrounds.
Yeah… I know, not exactly a jaw dropping twist. But hey, I’m trying, okay.
Seriously though, what might interesting is that also the noun die Ruhe (the quietness, the calm) comes from that root. And Ruhe, or actually the verbs ruhen and ausruhen, are the proper translations for to rest. Well, in the context of getting sleep/repose.

And what about rasten, then? How is that used?
Well, rasten has fallen out of fashion for the most part, and it’s more likely that you see the noun die Rast, usually in contexts of actual travels.

  • “Mama, halt an. Ich muss mal ganz ganz ganz dringend.”
    “Ich kann nicht einfach anhalten. Wir sind auf der Autobahn. Aber ich fahre an der nächsten Autobahnraststätte ra…”
    “Zu spät. Das Wort war zu lang.”
  • “Mom, stop the car. I really really really have to pee.”
    “I can’t just stop. We’re on the highway. But I’ll pull out at the next rest area.”
    “Great. I can hold for a bit.”

    (that moment when you make a joke about a long word and then you forget to actually say it in the audio :D)


Oh and let’s also not forget about the nouns Rastalocken and Rastafari, which got their name because they are chilling (resting) so much.
Yeah… that’s… erm… that’s my funny for this year.
Anyway, you might be wondering why rasten is even a word of the day. I mean, it doesn’t seem all that useful.
Well, the reason is the verb ausrasten.
And for that we first need to mention the verb einrasten. Einrasten expresses the idea of some sort of latch snapping into place. It “goes to its resting place” if you will.

It’s pretty technical, though, and the only reason I brought it up is because ausrasten is the opposite. Something “latches” out of place.
And that something is… drumroll please… us.
Ausrasten is a really really common word for people losing control. You snap, you get unhinged. The main context is anger, but you can also find it in sense of partying really hard or being really really excited.

And that’s it for today :). This was our little look at the meaning of rasten and the family of rest and to rest, that didn’t turn out all that crazy.
If you want to check whether you remember the key points, you can now take the little quiz we have prepared for you.

And as always, if you have any questions or suggestions just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.


** vocab ** 

rasten – take a rest (pretty much only used in context of hiking)
die Raststätte – the rest area (highway)
der Rasthof – the rest area 
rastlos – restless

ausrasten – snap, explode, go crazy (figurative for loosing control)
etwas ist zum Ausrasten – something is making you crazy mad

der Rest – the rest
das Resteessen –  a dish made from leftovers
restliche/n/m/.. – remaining (in sense of left over)
restlos – completely (without a rest)

die Ruhe – the calm, the quietness
sich ausruhen – to rest (sense of repose)
ruhen – to rest (fancy term)
ruhe in Frieden – rest in peace

for members :)

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Interessant – war mir noch nie so aufgefallen, dass die Bedeutung von “rest” (Substantiv) vom Artikel abhängt. Nur “the rest” bedeutet “der/ein Rest”; “rest” allein bzw. “a rest, some rest” heißt immer “Ruhe” bzw. “Rast”.


Kleine Korrektur: “losing control”, nicht “loosing control”

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak

I need to get some rest.
Ich muss mich ein bisschen ausruhen.
(Ich brauch ein bisschen Schlaf.)
I translated it as the answer in brackets – except I was trying to use Ruhe. This seems an English sort of thing, moving nouns about. The first answer seems more German to me, more verby, more lively.
This was a nice quiet way to start the year, thank you. Incidentally, the possessive – its – doesn’t take an apostrophe. (The clock’s wrong. It’s stopped; time to look at its mechanism.)
Daft rule but there it is (it’s). My Scots relatives would say “There it’s” but it doesn’t happen in English.
All best

Redmer Yska
Redmer Yska

Hard to explain how much I love your posts. They are so tantalisingly. So intriguing yo me. The tone just perfect. Many thanks from this adoring old Kiwi bird on summer hols at the beach!!


I love these blog posts! Thank you, Emanuel!

D Just D
D Just D

Hey – the translation of the last line is totally off. Did I miss something?
“Mama, halt an. Ich muss mal ganz ganz ganz dringend.”
“Ich kann nicht einfach anhalten. Wir sind auf der Autobahn. Aber ich fahre an der nächsten Autobahnraststätte…”
“Zu spät. Das Wort war zu lang.”
“Mom, stop the car. I really really really have to pee.”
“I can’t just stop. We’re on the highway. But I’ll pull out at the next rest area.”
“Great. I can hold for a bit.”

Pat McKay
Pat McKay

Arrgghhh, the audio on this does not work with Firefox again. But interestingly enough, the audio on the Prefix Verb site is working beautifully with it. What are you doing differently with the two sites?


Hi, Emanuel,
Are you ready for the first round of proofreading in 2019?
OK, ready or not, here it comes:
Are you ready for a whole new year (you missed the “you”)
let’s hit 2019 (there’s an extra ” of”)
rastafari, which got their name (there’s an extra “are”)
is even a word of the day (there’s an extra ” a”)
That’s it, hope you don’t get ausgerastet over my corrections, you know I mean well!
(When you have time, please answer my e-mail on beta-testing so I know how best to help!)
Bis bald!


Oh, forgot a question… Why does the mother of the kid who needs to pee fahr with dative to the rest area? I’ll never get these damn prepositions right…..

Abgaßßstufe EssZett!
Abgaßßstufe EssZett!

Neujahrskind im Spiegel namens EROS

Frischgebacken, fit, fesch, und frech!

Der Ramazottii wild ausgerastet
hezte freudig

durch Landgut, Hof, und Haus.

Schaut vor kurzem genau ins Spiegel

und—-statt —- fünfundfünfzig

sah er sich wieder

zwanzig – oder – neunzehn



comment image
I saw the advert dolor unicorn dressing gowns and thought of you. Happy New Year and thank you for your brilliant website !

Abgaßßstufe Es-Zett!
Abgaßßstufe Es-Zett!

Schnitt und Entwurf
Stoff Fabrik und Schneiderei

-Randy and the Rainbows 1963-

Für blitz schnelle Auslieferung kopieren und kleben!



Happy New Year to everyone. I just wanted to thank all the generous people who pay a little extra to help others who want to learn German but can’t afford the subscription cost. Thank you! It means a lot to me.


Hallo ! Ich habe eine Frage, die mit dem Artikel nichts zu tun hat, aber wusste nicht wem fragen… Wie kann man ein Verb in einem Wörterbuch finden, wenn man nur den Präteritum oder Perfekt kann? Zum Beispiel: ich habe mit diesem Satz getroffen: “ich habe meinen Laptop geschrotten”. Ich kann den Statz verstehen, ich wollte nur mehr über das Verb entdecken, aber was ich bis jetzt gefunden habe macht keinen Sinn. Gibt est eine Methode, um ein Verb aufzuspüren? Ich raste gleich aus!


Ich habe merhmals versucht, diese Wurzel “*erə-” zu finden, aber es hat nicht geklappt; da steht einfach, dass die nur “rudern” bedeutet. Mich würde interessieren, wo Sie die obengenannte Bedeutung “resting after a day of travel” gefuden haben? Danke im Voraus!