Advent Calendar 19 – “What remains”

W… what… what happened? What is that… Where are we? WHEN are we??


Oh my gaaawd… looks like door 18 was a time portal taking us to day 19.
Wow… this calendar is getting crazier and crazier.
Now you might be like “Wait a minute… I feel like Emanuel is just trying to hide that he skipped one day.”
Well, yes, I did skip a day. Is that a crime now?!?!
But seriously…  I am SUPER busy at the moment. A few weeks ago, kind of on a hunch, I took this job as a restaurant manager. Not for long, it’s more of a project for a friend to get things organized at that chaotic place. But yeah, the last two weeks were intense and I’ve done several late night shifts already. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining :). It’s just … yesterday night I really needed a break and just go out for a few drinks (Raki, this time). And today, the weather was so amazing that I spent the day outside.

Anyway, today we’ll talk a bit about what remains when the cake and cookies are eaten. No, I’m not talking about love handles. I am talking about 


You might have guessed it. Krümel is the German word for crumbs. Der Krümel is one crumb and die Krümel are the crumbs.
Now, Krümel is actually not the closest relative of crumb. That would be die Krume.
But Krume is a rather specific word in German. It has two meanings and the easiest way is to just do an image search. Just click the link. It’s 110%  safe for work….

Google Image Search for “die Krume”

Tadah. Quite random, right :).
One meaning is the inside part of bread, the other is “crumbly soil of a field”…. or something like that. I honestly don’t even know how to use that one. Unless you’re a baker or a farmer, Krume is really not useful.

Now, der Krümel is basically a small, cute version of Krume and it is the classic annoying crumbs. Let’s look at a few examples.

  • Ahhh… im Bett sind überall Krümel. Ich krieg gleich einen Anfall.
  • Argh… the bed is full of crumbs. I’m about to flip my shit.
  • Ein Toaster ohne Krümelschublade ist wie ein Mensch ohne Rektum.
  • A toaster without a crumb collector (lit.: crumb drawer) is like a human without a rectum.

There’s also a verb krümeln, but unlike the English to crumble it’s only used in sense of food.

  • “Stört dich das, wenn ich ein paar Plätzchen im Bett esse?
    “Nee, aber krümel’ bitte nicht alles voll.”
  • “Do you mind, if I eat some Christmas cookies in bed?”
    “No, but please don’t leave crumbs all over the place.”
  • Die Kekse sind lecker, aber die krümeln voll krass.
  • The cookies are tasty but they “produce loads of crumbs“.

Now, especially in Advent season with all the cake and cookies, Krümel is a good word to know. But what makes it even better are the idioms and expressions with Krümel. First up, there’s der Krümelkacker. Taken literally, it is someone who is pooping crumbles and it is basically a word for nitpicker. I’ll leave it up to you to make a connection :)

  • Du bist voll der Krümelkacker.
  • You’re such a nitpicker.

Next, there’s the verb sich verkrümeln and that is a colloquial term for going away. Like… leaving a party or leaving from work. It’s probably based on the idea of dispersing oneself which might be the reason why it has a little tiny bit of a sneaky feel to it.

  • Ich glaub, ich verkrümel mich.
  • I think, I’ll leave.

And last but not least we have this expression.

  • Wenn der Kuchen spricht, haben die Krümel Pause.

Taken literally, it translates to “When the cake is speaking, the crumbs have a break.”  and what it really means is this:

  • When the boss talks the minions have to shut it.

No idea how people came up with this but it’s kind of funny and it has a certain punch to it. It sounds quite patronizing though, so just use it in a joking manner.
And that’s it for today.
What about you? Have you heard of any of these expressions before? Are there nice idioms with Krümel in your language? Let me know in the comments and of course, let me know if you have questions.
Hope you enjoyed it, have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.

for members :)

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Awwwww sooooo cuuute! Your repeated use of the word “crumble” instead of “crumb” isn’t idiomatic but it IS so super adorable I hate to criticize it!
I get the image of a little mouse surrounded by huge, delicious crumbs with an aroma of cinnamon sugar. That’s probably because the English word “crumble”– normally a verb meaning to disintegrate, either literally or emotionally– is typically used as a noun only in the context of a topping for baked goods.

Anyway. Usually, the word is “crumb” (plural: crumbs) and you would tell that special someone who wants to eat cookies in bed to “go ahead, fine, just don’t get crumbs everywhere” or “quit leaving crumbs all over the place”.

However, in Hungarian there is indeed a verb for leaving crumbs and so my sister and I often heard my mom’s English transliteration: “Stop that! Use a napkin! You’re crumbsing all over the kitchen!”.

Tony Mountifield

Interesting words, thanks! Just wanted to mention that in English, the noun should always be crumb or crumbs, never crumbles. And “Nee, aber krümel’ bitte niche alles voll” would be “No, but please don’t drop crumbs all over the place.” When we use crumble as a noun, it refers to the kind of topping you get on Streusel. And it doesn’t have a plural. So “apple crumble” would be a pudding with stewed apple underneath and a crumble (Streusel) topping, baked in the oven. Lecker!


Our housekeeper (Estonian) would always say the kids had “crumbsied” or that a cookie/cake was crumbsy – but we never corrected her because we understood what she meant and it felt rude to notice HOW she said something instead of reacting to WHAT she said. Which brings me to “don’t crumble all over the place” – because this is a language site, I can second Tony Mountifield and our beloved crittermonster – you “leave crumbs” or put crumble on a cake (an “apple crumble” is a kind of cakey thingy). Although I really don’t feel comfortable correcting someone. However, I BEG to have anyone and everyone correct my German, danke.

Emanual: in English you can say, “He/She can eat crackers in my bed any day!” which means that he/she is so “lecker” that I don’t even mind if he/she leaves crumbs in my bed. This appeals to a universal disdain for crumbs in the bed, obviously. This he/she-person must be mighty attractive if we’d put up with crumbs in our bed just to have him/her in above mentioned bed.

As for me, no one will even want me eating crackers at the table, over a plate, I’m more of an Eselsbrücke: the only thing going up in my life IS my rent (Miete), the rest (yes, Titten, Po, Augenlider, Wangen) is hanging/sagging pitifully…


Aha! So Estonian has a verb to say you can “crumbs” on/into/all over something just like Hungarian does! And yes, it felt rude to say “uh, nobody says that” … In my case to my own mother. But hey, English is so freakin’ absorbent, who knows, if some YouTube star used it it would probably be all over the internet within hours. ” *****, I just crumbsed into my new gaming setup”.


So, one very common phrase is “well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles” which is very close to “so läuft der Hase” I would say. Such is life… Good night! And thanks


Great post today. I’ll let you off with a day off. Nobody’s judging you. I’ve only ever heard Krümel in one specific context which is sesameStraße and the krümelmonster I know cookies are Kekse but he’s called Cookie Monster in English and not crumble monster so no idea where that came from. Maybe it just rolls of the tongue better


What a lovely collection of sayings and terms – and I never came across any of them in Germany (well, not that I heard, but you can miss a lot when you’re concentrating too hard on the conversation!).

Anyway “Crumbs!” is a very middle-class, early/mid 20thC term for . . . . Wow! Gosh! Krass! It can be positive or negative but generally the speaker is astounded and lost for words. I wouldn’t swear to it but you can probably find it in any of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books. I don’t know the derivation (but I’m going to go and google it now :-)


Awww… I’m so sad! All the translations are now in correct English! I preferred the translations with the “thick German accent”! They were not only very CHARMING but gave a better Gefühl for the usage. Like, helps me learn to THINK in German.

How does the expression, “That crummy NOUN..” (meaning “that NOUN of low/poor quality, lousy, inadequate, shabby”) translate into German? My crummy old car, his crummy garage, this crummy job, her crummy furniture. Not with Krümel, or Krume, I guess.


I cannot think of a word that has the exact same meaning in German. “lousy” would be “lausig”, no big surprise both stem from the animal “louse” or “die Laus”. So you could go with that. Or if you want to be more creative, for translating your examples, you could probably say something like: “meine Schrottkarre/Rostmöhre”, “seine Bruchbude einer Garage”, “diese Drecksarbeit/Schinderei/Plackerei”, “ihre Mottenfänger”. Or just use a good old curse, that should do the trick, might even vent a bit more anger than using “crummy”. ;)


*Rostlaube (I shouldn’t write so late.)


person243: Thanks for the reply! Without looking up any of the words, I’m guessing “Schrottkarre” – is “scrap car”, “rost” is rust, right? so “Rostlaube” is like heap of rust, or rust catcher or some sort of collection of rust, is my guess. “Drecksarbeit” is pro’lly “shitjob, or shitty job”, “Schinderei and Plackerei” sound like crappy or crummy. “MOTTENFÄNGER” has gotta be a “moth catcher”, or? Gonna look them all up now, but thought I’d give it a go without cross referencing first. Merry xmas and a happy New Year!


You got a good feeling for that. “Die Laube” is actually a kind of house in the garden. Normally with windows. So the word also implies that the car is as immobile as a garden house. All these desciptions are obviously hyperbles though. You could use that for a new car if you have difficulties with a certain feature and want to describes your anger.
“Drecksarbeit” is the kind of work nobody wants to do. “Schinderei” is the work that a devious boss forces you to do. And “Plackerei” is very hard physical work.
As for “Mottenfänger”, that might be a bit more improvised on my part. I sometimes heard it in conection with furniture, but I don’t know how common it is. It describes a furniture as only useful in the sense of baiting mothes. The electrical summing lamp like things are not really common in Germany though. Normally the only countermeasures against insects are for the stinging flies, what do you call them? Glued bands hanging from the ceiling, defensive smells and sometimes lights with special frequences are used. Together with body cream and closing the windows when light’s on of course.


Great article! I love the sound of “verkrümeln” – not that I ever do it myself in that sneaky way ;) – it sounds cute, but I use it not at all in my daily life, should start again though :) When reading the sentence “Krümel is the German word for crumbs”, I was correcting it in my mind to “Krümel is one of the many German words for crumbs” (and I’m not correcting you, Emanuel, I only use “Krümel” myself, and that’s the word that is important for the derivations (verkrümeln, Krümelkacker etc.) in your article), because there are more! In case someone’s interested in the many other words there are in German dialects for the crumbs that are produced when slicing bread, check out this page: The picture shows a map of the German-speaking countries’ use of different words for “crumbs”, to the left of the map is a list of the different words that people use and the colors show where they’re used on the map. This is a page of a project to create an “atlas” (a dictionary/an overview) of the different usage of the German language in the daily life of its native speakers. If there’s any other German native speakers here, I urge you to participate, it’s great fun even reading the questions with the different possibilities in the multiple-choice questions :D You can participate in the current round here:


What about if someone is being crummy or the noun crumminess I don’t even know if these are related to crumb in English but is there something similar in German?
Is there a literal translation in German for the idiom: that’s how the cookie crumbles


So, if your partner is female would it be, Du bist voll die Krümelkackerin?


I think we’d only say to “feel crummy”, which means to feel bad/sick. Maybe that’s what they mean by depressed in this context. .