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.

** 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