Advent Calendar 9 – “Freeze!”

Written By: Emanuel Updated: April 12, 2021




Hallo Leute,

door number 9 of our Advent Calendar and behind it’s freezing.
Because today we’ll look at the German translation of to freeze.
Nah, kidding. Of course I mean translations :).
Because, you know, German just doesn’t know when it’s had enough.
“Wordtender, I’ll have another version, please! With ice.”
“Don’t you think you’re good for tonight?”
“Aw, c’me on browwww, I’m jus’ like tipsy. Just one more, okay. I promise I won’t vomit this time.”

So, the direct German relative of to freeze is frieren. And frieren does mean to freeze BUT ….  at least  in daily German it is used ONLY in the sense of  you feeling cold.

  • Ich friere.
  • I am freezing.

  • Frierst du?
  • Are you freezing?
  • In der Oper war es arschkalt. Ich habe die ganze Zeit gefroren.
  • It was friggin’ cold at the opera. I was freezing the whole time.

For the actual freezing, the change from liquid to ice, we’ll use one of several prefix versions. Hooray.
The most generic one, the one that water does at below zero, is gefrieren. Because, in case you didn’t know…  the ge- is not limited to that spoken past stuff. It’s a regular prefix, too, just like ver- or be-.  What does it express? Well, let’s just say completion for now and hope that a certain Emanuel character finally completes his freaking book on the stuff.
Anyway, examples.

  • Der Regen gefriert in der Luft und wird zu Schnee.
  • The rain freezes in the air and turns to snow.
  • Mir ist das Blut in den Adern gefroren, als meine Katze das gesagt hat.
  • My blood was freezing in my veins, when my cat said that.
  • Ih… das Bier ist noch voll warm. Ich packe das kurz ins Gefrierfach.
  • Ew… the beer is still super warm. I’m gonna put it into the freezer compartment for a bit.
  • Eis ist gefrorenes Wasser.
  • Ice is frozen water.

If you payed close attention you might have noticed frieren and gefrieren actually have the same ge-form. But one uses haben, the other one sein for the spoken past, so we can tell them apart. Phew… I know you were worried.

  • Ich habe im Schnee gefroren. (past of frieren)
  • I was freezing in the snow.
  • Das Bier ist im Schnee gefroren. (past of gefrieren)
  • The beer has frozen in the snow.

So confusing :).
The other prefix versions are basically all specific kinds of freezing. And I think you can kind of guess their gist from the prefix.  Zufrieren, literally to freeze closed, is what lakes and rivers do. Einfrieren is kind of freezing for things. The main context is us freezing food but also a screen freezing is einfrieren.

  • Der See ist zugefroren.
  • The lake has frozen (over).
    (what’s the most idiomatic choice here?)

  • Kann ich die Suppe einfrieren?
  • Can I (deep) freeze that soup?

Then, there’s erfrieren which is to freeze to death and last but not least abfrieren which is pretty much the same as to freeze off and it’s mostly used in colloquial German for feeling really cold.

  • Der Bergsteiger wäre beinahe erfroren.
  • The climber almost froze to death.
  • Ich frier mir hier “einen” / “den Arsch” ab, nur weil dein Scheißeinhorn Privilegien diskutieren will?!
  • I’m freezing my ass off here, just because your bloody unicorn wants to discuss privilege?!
    (Germans often say just “einen” instead of “den Arsch”)

And that’s it. Now you have an overview over how to say to freeze in German. And it wasn’t actually that bad. The main thing to take away is that frieren alone ONLY means to freeze in sense of being cold.

  • Das Bier friert.

This sounds like the poor beer is shivering because it is dressed too lightly. Probably a Bud.
*Badumm Tish.
Leave a comment if you have any questions or if you want to try out some examples. Hope you enjoyed it and see you tomorrow.


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