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.

  • Frau Lehrerin, Billy hat mich gehauen.
  • Miss teacher, billy punched me.
  • “Haumich und Pflaumich sitzen auf dem Baum. Pflaumich fällt runter. Wer bleibt oben?”
    “Haumi… oh mist.”
  • “Hunchme and Punchme are sitting on a tree. Hunchme falls down. Who’s still up there?”
    “Punchm… oh crap”

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.

  • Wenn Marc keine Argumente mehr einfallen, haut er zu.
  • Whenever Marc is out of arguments, he starts punching/resorts to violence.
  • Ich habe mir beim Holzhacken fast den Finger abgehauen.
  • I almost chopped off my finger while chopping wood.
  • Thomas hat seinem Bruder eine reingehauen.
  • Thomas punched his brother in the face.

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.

  • Dieser Preis wird Sie umhauen.
  • This price will knock your socks off. (lit.: will knock you to the ground)
  • Star Radio wird 5 Jahre alt… deshalb hauen wir diese Woche  jeden Tag 10.000 Euro raus. Also bleibt dran.
  • Star Radio turns 5 years old … that’s why this week we’re cranking out 11.000 Dollar every day, so stay tuned.
  • Thomas haut manchmal die krassesten Sprüche raus.
  • Sometimes Thomas drops the craziest lines/one liners.

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.

  • Ich hau mich ein bisschen hin.
  • I’ll lie down for a bit.

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.

  • Ich hab’s neu installiert. Hat alles hingehauen. Danke für den Tipp.
  • I reinstalled it. Everything worked out/worked well. Thanks for the advise.
  • Ich bezahl 15 Euro, du 10… ich glaub das haut ungefähr hin.
  • I’ll pay 15 Euro you’ll put in 10… I think that’s about right.
    (two people splitting a bill at a bar without actually adding up the drinks)
  • Ich habe 100 Stunden gearbeitet aber nur 800 Euro bekommen. Da haut irgendwas nicht hin.
  • I worked 100 hours but I only got 800 Euros. Something doesn’t add up there.

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. 

  • Hau ab, du idiot!
  • Piss off, you idiot!
  • Der Manager ist mit dem Geld abgehauen.
  • The manager bolted with the money.
  • Ich glaub, ich hau gleich ab.
  • I think I’m gonna take off soon.

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.

  • Ich glaub, ich hau rein.
  • I think I’m gonna head out/leave.
  • Lass mal reinhauen.
  • Let’s head home/leave.
    (destination depends on context, but it’s somewhat homeward bound so don’t use it when you start a journey)
  • Hau rein. /Hauste rein, wa./Rinjehaun.
  • Take care man/bye.
     The latter two are Berlin dialect

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.

  • Haut rein.
  • Enjoy your meal, guys.
  • Wenn’s irgendwo Kaviar gibt, hau ich immer orderntlich rein.
  • If there’s caviar somewhere I always dig in.

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

  • Boah, dieses Starkbier haut ganz schön rein.
  • Dude, this strong beer does go to your head.

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

4.7 7 votes
Article Rating