Word of the Day – “hauen”

hauen-abhauen-reinhauen-meaHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we’ll have a look at the meaning of



A word that you’ll probably not find in text books and that means it’s probably super cool.
The origin of hauen is the super ancient Indo European root *kāu-, which meant to strike, to hew.  And yes, to hew is also an offspring of that root, as do the word hay and the German translation das Heu, which literally are “that which is hewn”. And you know what other word belongs to the same family? Code

How does that work? Well, in Latin, a codex  originally simply meant trunk of a cut down tree. Then people started using it for wooden tablets they would cut from trunks and then it slowly shifted toward the laws that people wrote down on such tablets. But the very origin is the old Indo European root *kau and the idea of striking, hewing.
But enough with the history. Let’s get to our actual word of the day hauen.
Unlike code and hay, this has barely changed at all.  Hauen still mean to beat, to punch, to strike.  It’s basically a synonym for schlagen (to beat, to punch). It sounds a bit less forceful and you can often find it in context with little kids quarreling.

The second one is classic prank on elementary school yards. If you say the name “Haumich” you’re basically saying “punch me!” and then the other kid goes like “Okay” and punches you. Yeah, kids fancy themselves soooooo clever. When I have kids I’m gonna try to turn that joke on them. Like this…

Shmiledothedishes and Illdothedishes are sitting on a tree. Shmiledothedishes falls down. Who’s still up?

Ha… can’t wait to see their faces when they realize what they just said.
Anyway, hauen is not limited to the kids world, especially not with prefixes so let’s look at some of those, too.

There are also a few related words. A Bildhauer for instance is a sculptor, the noun der Hieb is a rare word for punch and ein Hauer  is the German term for the tusk of a boar. Which might make go like “Yeah… the dusk of bore. That’s actually what I feel like I’m entering right now. Why the hell are we talking about hauen again?”
Well, because there are so many cool colloquial expressions with hauen and …

they’re all super common

Seriously… if  you want to sound like a German, if you want to impress your friends with how idiomatic you sound… hauen can make a huge difference so let’s take a look.

“hauen” –  colloquial expressions

Let’s start with umhauen and raushauen. Umhauen can literally mean to knock over but it’s also used in a more abstract sense of to impress and raushauen basically means to put out… just with an energetic feel to it.

I think for these two,the original sense of striking, punching is still quite visible. That’s also true for the next one, hinhauen, in sense of lying down for a napLiterally you’re “punching” yourself down.

But hinhauen has a second meaning, and that’s not quite as obvious. The second meaning is something like to work out, not in sense of sports but in sense of to go well. It’s used for small scale, short term stuff where you try something. Like… trying out a new, complicated recipe, fixing a computer or even controlling numbers.

What that has to do with hinhauen… I don’t know. Maybe it’s about having an effect or something. In either case, it’s quite common and when you’re in Germany I’m almost sure you’ll hear it at some point.
And what I’m absolutely sure you’ll come across are abhauen and reinhauen. We’ve already seen that it can mean to chop off. But what it’s really used for is leaving, hastily going away. 

This is already super common but the crown jewel is reinhauen. Reinhauen also means to leave but unlike abhauen it has no notion of fleeing in it. It is more like leaving from a party or leaving from work and at least in Northern Germany, it’s even used as a way to say good bye.

The last one has a high slang factor though, so you shouldn’t use at the end of a meeting with your boss or after the first dinner with your crush.
And speaking of eating… that brings us to the next meaning of reinhauen. Yes, it has more than one. Reinhauen can also mean to eat a lot and with joy. You punch the food in your mouth, if you will.

And as if that wasn’t enough reinhauen is also used in context of alcohol or drugs having a strong effect.

I don’t really know a cool, colloquial expression for that in English.

Anyway, so is hauen a cool word or is it a cool word? Especially abhauen and the various reinhauens are really cool and if you raushauen one at the right time you’ll will definitely  umhauen you friends :).
Make sure you don’t overdo it, though. ‘Cause that kinda thing… like… when ur tryin’  real hard to sound like a native and stuff… that gets ridic right quick. Faster than shit through a goose.
See what I mean ;).
All right folks, that’s it for today. This was our look at hauen and its numerous colloquial uses. If you have any questions or if you want to try out some examples before using them in the wild, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time. Haut rein. 

Click here to download all audio files (zip-archive, mp3 files)


** vocab **

hauen – the punch, beat
der Hieb – the punch
der Bildhauer – the sculptor, the carver
Hau-den-Lukas – high striker/ring-the-bell (this funfair thing where you have to test your strength)

reinhauen – head out/home, dig in (with food), have a strong effect (especially in context of drugs)
jemandem eine reinhauen – punch someone in the face
abhauen – chop off, quickly leave, bolt, flee
umhauen – knock over, seriously impress
raushauen – put out, crank out
hinhauen – work out, add up (a bit tricky to use idiomatically)
zuhauen – strike a blow, also used as a generic word for getting violent

for members :)

Leave a Reply

newest oldest
Notify of
Aoin D

Thanks for another great post Emanuel. I believe you have correctly identified a cultural phenomenon about drinking culture in the anglosphere. While it might be OK for your mum to declare that a glass of beer has gone straight to her head, anyone who wants to sound cool had better keep that shit to themselves!


I never ever heard reinhauen for abhauen. That must be a regionalism in Berlin. BTW a Hauer can also denote a hewer – a miner who loosens rock and minerals in a mine.


What is the relationship to “die Haut” (the skin)?


When I read “raushauen” I thought you would speak about prisons. It did later occur to me that you did not refer to this meaning of the word. For me the meaning: “jmd. aus etw. raushauen” is even stronger than the “to put out” meaning. You know if your friend is in a difficult situation and he really needs someones help like if he is arrested for inappropriate behavior you would say:

“Keine Angst. Ich hau’ dich da schon raus.” = “Don’t falter. I will get you out of there.”

You might not go as far as actually hitting your way through the police force but you play your cards pay money persuade lawers and judges. “raushauen”.

By the way thanks for another cool word of the day.


not so sure about the vocab definition of zuhauen (“do one blow”). I think to hit someone or strike a blow might be better. in English ‘do blow’ is to take cocaine.

Anna Miell
Anna Miell

Great stuff! Always thought ‘hauen’ was only prevalent in my home country, Austria. Hence ‘Fleischhauer’ for ‘butchet’. I also grew up in Vienna with the slang expression ‘sich abhauen’ when we found something amusing. “Ich hau mich ab.” “What a laugh. ” Seems a long time ago, though – not sure how much this is in use now. I love reading about origins of words. Thank you for your posts!


“Ich hau mich ab!” sounds like “That cracks me up!” in English.


Ich finde Ihre Website super, um umgangssprachliches Deutsch zu lernen. Könnten sie bitte ein Paar weitere Beispiele für Redewendungen mit ,hauen’ erzählen, z.b. ,Das haut mich vom Hocker’ und “Wir haben richtig auf die Pauke gehauen’?

Aviv Avitan
Aviv Avitan

Danke!! deine Posten und Beiträge sind wie immer sehr interessant und hat mich etwas neue gelehrt. Während meine Reise nach Deutschland habe ich diese Wort getroffen, aber leider bis jetzt nicht richtig verstehen. Laut die Spectrum von Bedeutungen, es ist kein Wunder. Hau rein :)


I think I would say, ‘this beer blows your head off’.

Aoin D

I need some of that beer :D

Auntie Widdershins
Auntie Widdershins

In kanada beer was limited to 4.5%, now IPA is around 7%. However “Everclear” packs a punch and will knock-your-socks-off.

Our Sal
Our Sal

I came across the word hauen in the satirical verse of Jan Boehmermann that has so upset the Turkish president – (http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/tv/jan-boehmermann-das-sind-die-fakten-der-staatsaffaere-a-1086571.html)

Thanks for explaining its meaning and origins.


For those interested in more examples with reinhauen, Deutsche Welle explained this word in one of their posts here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152171834627394.1073741833.146790007393&type=3 They have a whole album on fb called Wortschatz that is literally the dream of every german learner!


Hi Emanuel

Ich habe kürzlich den folgenden Satz gelesen:

Wenn sie keine Lust hat, dann haut sie ihre Hausaufgaben einfach schnell hin.

Ich verstehe diesen Satz nicht ganz. Es scheint widersprüchlich zu sein. Er bedeutet, gut zu arbeiten, aber jemand hat nicht den Wunsch dazu. Was gibt es hier?

Wie immer, Vielen Dank!!!