Word of the Day – “der Drang”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day, this time with a look at the meaning of

der Drang

 

And we won’t only look at Drang of course but also at other cool words like dringend or drängeln.
Okay, drängeln isn’t that cool actually. But sometimes you have to do it. Like… when you have to get out of a packed train. Or when the article you’re reading to learn German randomly starts talking about a horse that just stands on a meadow. And it describes how the horse just stands there. And then it eats a bit of grass. And takes a few steps. And then stands there. And you’re like
“Dude, could we get started already?!”
That’s drängeln. So let’s jump right in.

Drang sounds quite similar to another German word: der Zwang. And in fact, the similarity is not only in sound. Zwang (we’ve talked about it in a separate article) translates to compulsion, coercion and it’s is essentially a force that is making you do something and you absolutely can’t resist it.
A Drang is kind of a softer, more “intuitive” version of that. It doesn’t sound as irresistible as Zwang and while Zwang can come from the outside, a Drang is always born within you.
The best translations are probably urge and desire but I’d say Drang is on the upper end if the intensity range of those.
Let’s look at a few examples

The origin of the word is a super mega turbo ancient Indo-European root that was about thrusting, compressing.
It’s not entirely sure, but the word truncate might be part of that family and there might be a connection to the word Druck. And regardless of whether that’s actually the case or not, the idea of pressure and thrusting work really great as a core idea for not only the noun but also the verbs. Which brings us right to drängen and drängeln.

drängen and drängeln

The noun der Drang was only about pressure coming from the inside. The verb drängen on the other hand works for outside pressuring.  Someone “pressures, shoves”  in a certain direction.

But drängen itself isn’t actually all that common and it’s nothing you’d need in your active vocabulary. The same goes for the prefix versions aufdrängen, which means to “push something on someone”, and  bedrängen which is a more physical pushing into someone’s space.

The only word that’s quite common is verdrängen.  It’s based in the away-ver and even though it works for quite the range of contexts, the basic idea of “pressuring away” is pretty visible.

As you can see, this is a pretty useful word and the same goes for drängeln.
These l-versions of verbs often carry a subtle notion of repetition. Drängen is pretty stream lined pressure in one direction. Drängeln is more of an on and off, hard soft, left right kind of thing. And if you’re now like “Huh?” just imagine you’re trying to walk through a dense crowd. Like or a concert or on very busy market. You have your destination and you push a little left, a little right, a little forward, gently, firmly…. THAT is the essence drängeln.
It’s also used on a more abstract sense of trying to make someone hurry, and let’s not forget about the prefix version vordrängeln, which is the German word for jumping the queue/line. Like… you don’t go to the end but somewhere in the middle instead.

Cool.
So verdrängen and drängeln are definitely words worth adding to your active vocab, but there’s actually still more.

dringen

Just like drängen, dringen itself is not all that useful. It’s kind of similar to drängen in that it’s also about pushing in a certain direction but it’s more about you yourself moving there. And unlike drängen you cannot do it to someone directly… blah blah blah… it’s REALLY boring actually. Just like the example…

I know, some of you really like learning rare words and using them in everyday situations. I do likewise on occasion. But trust me… dringen is TOO rare and specific for that and it will not work.

So why are we even mentioning it? Because it has two related words that are SUUUUUPER useful.
The first one is dringend which is the German word for urgently.  Something that’s urgent is kind of shoving, pressing itself into your immediate reality, if that makes sense.

And the other really useful word is the prefix verb eindringen, which is about something or someone forcing their way inside somewhere. It works for a range of contexts and the translations vary but the basic idea is always pretty clear.

Oh, and I guess we could also mention aufdringlich. We already had aufdrängen earlier and aufdringlich is kind of the adjective for that and means intrusive, pushy.

And that’s it for today.
Yeah!! This was our look at the family of Drang. There are a few words and uses that we didn’t cover but I think with the basic idea of pushing, pressing in mind, you’ll be able to get at least the gist of them from context.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions or if you have a Drang to try out some examples, just hop into the comment section. But please no drängeln :). There’s enough room for all of you.
I’m out for now, I hope you had a fun time and learned something.
Have a great week and I’ll see you next time.

Oh, I almost forgot a little

  !!Surprise !!

I don’t know how many but I’m sure quite a few of you are using some sort of flashcard system and you copy the vocab by hand. So decided to make it a little easier for all of you by offering the vocab as a .csv-file. It’s basically a textfile that you can import with most common flashcard apps. (Brainscape, Memrise, Anki, Tiny Cards,… ).
Let me know if you find this helpful, either in a comment, or by this poll!

Are .csv-files to import in your flashcard app useful to you?

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If enough of you use it,  I’ll add it to all the articles here :).
I’m also planning a little app, so you can train right here, but that’s gonna take some time.

Get this weeks vocab as .csv

IMPORTANT!! The separator sign here is a semi colon: “;”. NOT a comma. I hope this works for you. Let  me know if this works, or if I should restructure to a comma.

further reading: 

Word of the Day – “zwingen”

** vocab **

der Drang – the urge, desire, compulsion
der Tatendrang – the zest, energy to do something

jemanden drängen zu – push someone to do something (rare!!)
jemanden bedrängen – ( physically ) pushing into someone’s personal space
jemandem etwas aufdrängen  – push something onto someone (figuratively)

verdrängen – displace, push out, repress/suppress (psychology) 
die Verdrängung – gentrification, displacement, repression

drängeln – shove and push (in crowds), also: nag someone to hurry
vordrängeln – skip the line/queue

dringend – urgently
eindringen – penetrate, percolate, forcefully enter
eindringlich – with high intensity (usually in context of eye contact or questions)
aufdringlich – pushy, intrusive

for members :)

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berlingrabers
berlingrabers

– Der Drang, zu rauchen, war sehr stark, aber ich war stärker.
– The desire, urge to drink a beer was very strong.

Was it a Rauchbier? ;)

– Maria fühlt sich von dem Strassenmagier bedrängt.
– Maria feels hassled, besieged by the street magician.
(dict.cc offers a gazillion translations here, not sure I picked the best ones)

“Hassled” sounds good to me. “Besieged” is sort of odd – if it’s a guy who knows her who’s always hounding her for a date or whatever, that could work. But “hassled” or “harassed” would work.

Jake
Jake

I might also say “Maria feels badgered”.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

“Badgered” is a good one. At least on TV, you hear it in the courtroom setting, where an attorney objects that the opposition is “badgering the witness” (i.e. asking questions in a pushy, overly aggressive way to keep the witness off balance).

Giorgi
Giorgi

Hello, fellow German-learners!!! I’m Giorgi from Georgia :)) I just want to say that im very very thankful for the fact that now I’m a part of the community! All thanks to the memebrs who have payed extra for those who can’t afford a membership. It feels like the place is all about learning and helping and developing (shout-out to Emanuel for creating it) which motivates me even more and I promise I’ll do my best to put the opportunity to a good use! #teamspirit

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

In response to: (What would be a good translation here? Is there something a little more pushy than “sell them extras”?)

What you wrote, (Some dentists try to push expensive extras onto their patients.) is OK. Perhaps “Some dentists try to push their patients into buying expensive extras,” but your version was spot on in my ears.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

Does “on” weirdly sound a little more idiomatic to you than “onto”? It kind of does for me, maybe making it sound a little less literal/spatial. Looks like Google agrees: “try to push * on you” gets close to 7,000 hits, while “try to push * onto you” gets under 1,000.

At any rate, “push something on(to) someone” is absolutely right.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

Oh, and in Amerikanerin’s alternative version, you could also use “pressure” as a verb:

– Some dentists try to pressure their patients into buying expensive extras.

Jinksy
Jinksy

Coerce!

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

For which one? I don’t see the Drang/dringen family as pointing to something as strong as “coerce” – for that you need “zwingen.”

peterlobl

“a dentist pushing” is good phrasing – a medical profi akin to a drug dealer, both upselling their wares to rapt audiences.

regarding “eindringlich”, i think instead of poignantly, “emphatically” may be better, esp. when it comes to being pushed into dishwashing.
(shakespeare might have been beseeched to do it, had he not had such delicate hands…)

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

Oh, yeah, I was going to comment on “eindringlich” – “poignant” really means “emotionally powerful/resonant.” I thought he was probably going for “pointedly,” which I think would fit.

formaneka
formaneka

Ich wollte ein bißchen mehr über drängeln in Verkehr verstehen. Ist das nur wenn man sehr nah hinter ein anderen Auto fährt, oder kann es auch verwenden werden in so eine Angelegenheit wo man häufig lanes? wechselt –was auf Englishen “weaving in an out of traffic” genannt würde? (und bitte korrigier mein Deutsch!)

Deborah
Deborah

It’s a small point, but English foxes don’t live in burrows. Burrows are for small creatures like rabbits and moles. A fox lives in a ‘den’ or an ‘earth’.

Jake
Jake

A related term I encountered recently is

in Bedrängnis sein — to be in dire straits / distress

Bran
Bran

Danke für diese Perle: “Wenn es beim Eindringen wehtut, sollte man über Gleitgel nachdenken.” Klasse!

RichK
RichK

From Live Science: “A group of foxes are called a leash, skulk or earth, according to the U.S. Department of Interior.” I’ve only heard of “packs.”

chicken
chicken

Hello Emmanuel,
thank you for an excellent lesson.
I have problems with the constant recurrent use of both hin and her in conversations. Would you have discussed this in a previous lesson or could you suggest a reference ?
thanks very much !

Lamb
Lamb

Just come across dringlich vs. dringend both mean urgent but in different contexts. Am I right ?

chicken
chicken

Hello Emmanuel,
Would it be possible that you discuss the many meanings of ansetzen.
thank you

Seayon
Seayon

Hello everyone! I’m Seayon from India. I would like to thank all the fellow members who have payed extra for those who can’t afford this membership. A big shoutout to Emanuel for creating best content for the learners. I’ll try my best to put this opportunity to a good use! #teamspirit :)

Merjem choi
Merjem choi

I’m thankful to the people who payed some extra, because I got the chance to learn of such an amazing site. Thank you for helping out to people like me !

Shannon S
Shannon S

The first thing I thought of in regards to the dentist pushing extras, was that he was up-selling. Would that be a reasonable translation?

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
berlingrabers
berlingrabers

Just came across another (this time reflexive) use of “aufdrängen” in a student’s paper:

– Beim ersten Studieren … drängen sich eine Reihe von Fragen auf.

Would you take this as “jostle/vie for attention”? Or that they just arise or emerge in a lively (possibly slightly [metaphorically] violent) sort of way?

Junjie
Junjie

Is it also possible to add the example sentences into the csv file? :p