German Word of the Day – “Feierabend”

Hello everyone,End of work - Feierabend

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we are going to have a look at the meaning of:

der Feierabend

 

Feierabend is a thing that every employee around the world has been and is looking forward to with joy, and yet the term does not really exist in English. Feierabend consists of the 2 parts Feier and Abend. Die Feier has its origin in the Latin feriae, which meant something like a day without any business activities’. So Feier is actually related to the German word die Ferien which is the holidays for students and pupils. Adult working class citizens have something different… they have Urlaub, which is not as often and not as long, but I digress. 

Eine Feier  is a celebration or a party and so it comes in a number of compounds nouns such as Weihnachtsfeier (Christmas party), Geburtstagsfeier (birthday party), Hochzeitsfeier (wedding reception) or Osterfeuer…. oh wait … the last one means easter fire. The pronunciation of Feuer  is not so different to Feier so pay attention there.

There is also the verb feiern. Feiern originally means to celebrate but especially younger people use it also in sense of to party. If that is not intense enough for you, you may add the prefix ab to make it a real blast… so abfeiern is really partyin’ it out.

The second part of Feierabend is Abend and it means evening. Note that the German evening lasts longer than the English one does, so it is also used in sense of night. The question “What are you doing tonight” translated literally using Nacht might sound a little salacious or the answer might just be “Sleep. Why?” The correct question in German is:

So now lets put the 2 parts Feier and Abend together and see what that would be
hmmmm… party-night I guess.
Niiiiiiiiice! I sure wanne have that. What was that in the beginning? Every employee has it? So it’s like .. I should get a job or something to get free party-night?
Exactly… because Feierabend is the moment when you have finished your work and there is not really a translation for that… by the way, it is actually strange that there is all these grumpy faces in Berlin subway at 5 pm as they all have party-night… well I guess it’s more inside :)

This is one of THE MOST used goodbye-phrases amongst colleagues. And it doesn’t matter whether it actually IS evening or not. It is also used by two night nurses at 8 am to say goodbye and you can also say it when your coworker, who is only a part time, leaves the office at noon.
The duration of Feierabend is hard to grasp but I tend to say that it is a rather short time as there is phrasings like the following:

The first examples also show the main usage. Feierabend is something you usually HAVE but if it is up to you to decide when your task is finished you can also MAKE Feierabend.

Now before we wrap this up with a little grammar… yeah I know….  let’s list some people who finish hard hard work every day and yet they don’t have party-night, they just have Schluss:

  • Schüler
  • Studenten

Hah! You can’t really use Feierabend unless it is something job-related you are finishing. So if you want it, get a job!

The grammar is going to be really quick and might actually fit in one line if only I wouldn’t spend so much time to introd… ok sorry, I am about to have my Feierabend too, so I am a little silly right now. The plural of Feierabend is Feierabende, yet it is rarely ever used. And here is the little gender reminder… it is of course DER Feierabend so it is masculine because MEN work while women enjoy their Freizeit (free time) which is hence die Freizeit… what’s that? Not 1950 anymore?… true true true.. but back then when the articles were forged by those wise men, those were the days I tell ya’.

Disclaimer:all the gender-related stereotypes are solely used
for joke purposes!!
There is no reason why women shouldn't do everything men do...
except for not sitting down on the toilet.

Schönen Feierabend and see you next time.

Test yourself!

Take this little quiz to see if you got the most important points :)

0%

Take the quiz on "Feierabend"

What does die Feier mean?

What does abfeiern mean?

What is a Feierabend?

Which of the following verbs can NOT be used with Feierabend?

Who has Ferien? (multiple answers possible)

Which of the following statements does NOT work when your colleague is about to call it a day?

 

Your score is

The average score is 62%

 

 

** vocab **

der Feierabend – well.. you got the idea
der Urlaub – vacation for working people or vacation trip
die Ferien – vacation for Students and pupils
der Abend – the evening
feiern – celebrate
feiern gehen – go party

for members :)

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Markus
Markus

This is an awesome explanation of the term — thorough, witty, and enjoyable. I’ll be checking out the rest of the blog now.

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Farmers’ Market – Incentives to go

[…] time I hop on the escalator to go down to Coop, I feel a part of my Feierabend happiness evaporate a little. Why would you want to pay multiple visits throughout the week to an […]

KEVIN LEAHY

Great post! I especially like the explanations of when Feierabend is appropriate or not. Well written and the etymological asides are very interesting.

Shirah W
Shirah W

Thank you for this! You manage to effectively communicate the meaning of a word and a concept that does not exist in English.

Robb
Robb

Der Feierabend is closely related in concept to the American notion of “quitting time” which is a bit celebratory, short duration, and leading to your regular evening.

Anna
Anna

Je mehr ich dieses Blog lese, desto interessanter wird Deutsch! You are amazing!

quollism
quollism

In Australian English we call this “knock-off”, e.g. “Knock-off is at five-thirty.” It’s a phrasal verb as well – “I’m knocking off early tomorrow.” Not sure if it can be pluralised though, sounds a bit weird to say “All his knock-offs are early”, more like “He always knocks off early.” :)

Roger H

You might also like to explain POETS :-)

MacFeagle
MacFeagle

Knocking off is also used in British English and you’ve got the sense of it perfectly as in “I’m out of here, who cares if the job is done?”
We also use quitting time but that’s specifically the time you knock off.
As you say, there’s no word in English for the evening once work is done othet than simply Evening.
The first time i heard “schönen Feierabend” was from my boss as I knocked off one evening, i assumed he was sarcastically wishing me fun at a party or something because i was going home before he was.

Sophia

The first time I heard “Feierabend” while living in Germany my first thoughts were, “Hey, where’s the party at? And what are we celebrating?!”

It really is a cool word to describe being done for the day and I have borrowed it from German into English everytime I am really excited that my work day is over. Also, another mis-understanding I initially had was that “Feierabend” referred to weekend or Friday night….beginner’s hallucinations!

Thanks for an excellent blog post. Enjoyed it throughly especially the disclaimer!

Anonymous
Anonymous

I’ve tried before to explain what this beautiful words means, and the closest English expression I could find comes from 1980s American beer ads: “it’s Miller time!” it’s the same sentiment, at least.

Steve
Steve

That’s how I’ve always translated it, too.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Can it be translated to afterwork, maybe?

Hany
Hany

Hallo! I usually read your fantastic topics. This is my first time to post a comment. Just decided to left a comment saying: you are really really doing great.
H B

Atomique
Atomique

In Australia we don’t have a direct translation but ‘beer o’clock’ comes close.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Happy hour, anyone?

Carl Cook
Carl Cook

Clocking out would be another. Knocking off has another connotation in these neck of the woods. Akin to knocking one out.

Shannon
Shannon

As a college student in Heidelberg, I often heard the bartenders shouting “feierabend” as a way to mean (I thought) last call. Would that also be a correct understanding of the word?

Second question, my mother had a little wall hanging she purchased in East Berlin back in the late 70s that said something like “ist feier’omd.” The hanging has long been lost in a move, but would that have been a colloquialism for feierabend?

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks! Feierabend, when hollered by the bartender definitely meant drink up and get out. :) it was like a two minute warning.

Your other answer has solved a long held family mystery. Can’t wait to tell my mother! Sv

Claudia
Claudia

Sorry to be so anal, but “What are you going to do after you finished work” is ungrammatical. Could you please correct it :)? The right tense to use in this subordinate clause is the simple present tense, so “after you finish work”. (I would say “after you are done with work”.. but that’s personal taste)

parisbongi
parisbongi

Ich erinnere mich an einen Tierartzt in Paris namens Dr Feierabend. Er war oft abwesend… Jetz weiss ich, warum ;) Danke

bole1111
bole1111

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