Word of the Day – “locken”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time, with a quick look at the meaning of



It looks an awful lot like to lock. But that doesn’t mean that they’re related. I for instance look an awful lot like Chris Hemsworth, and yet we’re not related either. We’re just both very, very attractive – a walking temptation.
And that’s actually kind of what locken is all about. And not only the verb locken. The noun Locken can be attractive, too, if you like curls. Oh and let’s not forget about locker, which is also pretty attractive.
So clearly something to talk about, so let’s jump right in and unlock some new words :)

Let’s start with the verb locken. When you look in a dictionary, you can find translations like luring, enticing, attracting or wooing but the core idea is actually pretty clear for a native speaker. Locken is about “actively making someone want to come to you”. To give you a visual image… think of this “come here” motion you can make with your index finger combined with a salacious look. That’s a really good example of locken.

  • Viele Websites locken mit einer Geld-Zurück-Garantie.
  • Many websites (try to) lure customers with a money back guarantee.
  • Das hungrige Einhorn hat den Wanderer in seine Höhle gelockt.
  • The hungry unicorn lured/baited the hiker into its cave.

Now, looking at the second example, it makes perfect sense that locken is probably a distant relative of lügen (to lie). And it definitely does have a slightly manipulative overtone. But it doesn’t always imply something “false”. Like… the first example DOESN’T imply that the websites are sketchy in any way.
And the prefix version anlocken is a pretty neutral to attract, mostly in context of the animal kingdom.

  • Der Honig lockt die Wespen an.
  • The honey attracts the wasps.
  • Vom Gitarrenspiel angelockt, schleicht das Einhorn um das Camp der Wanderer.
  • Attracted/drawn by the playing of the guitar, the unicorn creeps/sneaks around the camp of the hikers.

And then, there are verlockend and die Verlockung which mean tempting and temptation and which are generally pretty positive sounding. The verb they’re based on, verlocken, has fallen out of use for the most part, but those two words are fairly common, especially in marketing.

  • Oh wow. Diese weiße, salzlose Reiswaffel sieht verlockend aus.
  • Oh wow. This white, salt-less rice waffle looks alluring/tempting.
  • “Meine weiße, salzlose Reiswaffel… hast du sie gegessen?! Gestehe!”
    “J… ja… ich konnte der Verlockung nicht widerstehen.”
  • “My white salt-free rice waffle… did you eat it?! Confess!!”
    “Y… yes… I couldn’t resist the temptation.”

Cool, so that’s the verb locken.
Now let’s talk about the noun Locken, which is the German word for curls. The singular is die Locke (one curl of hair) but the plural is much more common.

  • Ich bin stolz auf meine schönen Surfer-Locken.
  • I am proud of my beautiful surfer-curls.
  • Nach dem Waschen sind Marias Haare immer lockig/gelockt.
  • After washing, Maria’s hair is always curly.

Now, from a boring, scientific point of view, the origin of the curly-Locken is the super ancient Indo-European root *leug, which was about bending, so it’s not related to the verb locken. But from a less uptight “Uh, everything has to be accurate all the time”, more fun point of view, the reason why Locken are called Locken is because they anlocken potential mates.  I mean… already the old Greeks knew about the allure of Locken.

Man, I wish I had such a curly beard. Well, actually I wish I could grow a proper beard to begin with.
Anyway, now that we know the verb locken and the noun Locken, the last one missing is the adjective locker.
Looks an awful lot like the English locker but once again, that is totally misleading. Actually, German locker is kind of the opposite of what you want from a lock because it means…. loose. Not completely fixed.

  • Die Klinke ist locker.
  • The door handle is loose.
  • Die Klinke ist lockerer als gestern.
  • The door handle is more loose than yesterday.
  • Der Typ hat eine Schraube locker. (idiom)
  • The guy is crazy.
  • Lit.: “The guy has a screw loose.”

And even more useful than that is the metaphorical use as chill, relaxed or in some contexts informal. 

  • Mach dich mal locker! (pretty common colloquial saying)
  • Loosen up/relax.
  • Aristoteles war echt locker drauf.
  • Aristotle was a really easy going dude.
  • Thomas war beim ersten Date total unlocker.
  • Thomas was really uptight/unrelaxed on the first date.
  • Die Atmosphäre beim Diplomatentreffen war total locker.
  • The atmosphere at the diplomats’ meeting was really informal/informal.

Of course there are also some related words but they’re pretty easy to guess in context, I think.

  • Thomas mag an Maria vor allem ihre Lockerheit.
  • Above all, Thomas likes about Maria her being easy going /”laid back-ness“.
  • Die Türklinke lockert sich von alleine.
  • The door handle loosens itself.
  • Um das Krisen-Meeting ein bisschen aufzulockern, kriegt jeder Prossecco. Eine Flasche.
  • To make the emergency meeting a bit more relaxed, everyone gets prossecco. One bottle.

Oh and we also need to mention that locker can be used in sense of easily. I don’t know, if that’s known all over Germany, but I use it pretty often.

  • 4 Kaffee am Tag? Das schaff ich locker.
  • Four coffees per day? I can do that/pull that off easily.
  • Das kann locker noch drei Tage dauern, bis das fertig ist.
  • That can easily take three days before it’s done.

And that’s it for today.
This was our look at locken, Locken and locker and even though the three words are not related when we look at them from a science point of view, they are related because we want them to be. That’s how the law of attraction works. #spiritual:100
Oh and speaking of attraction… here’s one last example that combines all the words.

  • Lockere Locken locken Thomas vom Sofa.
  • Loose curls lure Thomas of the sofa.

As usual, my attractive assistant has prepared a little quiz for you, so you can check how much you remember.
And of course, if you have any questions or suggestions just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.



** vocab **

locken – lure, bait, make come 
anlocken – attract (mostly animal kingdom)

verlockend – tempting
die Verlockung – the temptation (positive sounding)

die Locke(n) – the curl(s)
lockig – curly
der Lockenwickler – the curler (for hair)

locker – loose, also: easily
(sich) lockern – loosen (oneself)

auflockern – loosen up (mostly figurative)
die Auflockerung – the cheer up

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3 years ago

Maaan, these csv files are eine tolle Idee!!!

3 years ago
Reply to  Annasc

But they don’t work for Memrise.. or I’m stupid :)

3 years ago

The loose curls lure Thomas OFF the sofa. “Thomas of the sofa” means Thomas belongs to or comes from the sofa – as in “knight of the round table”.

By the way, how come I got every question right in the quiz but only got 88%? Are you in an alternative arithmetical universe?

3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Oh no, keep the score! Now I know how it works I’m happy. Good post, by the way – have been really enjoying trying to find ways to work these words into my German conversation.

3 years ago

Hat „die Locken“ etwas mit dread locks zu tun ?

Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
3 years ago


”ver” Teil 1.

Seid Ihr zwei noch dabei.??? Bonnie at Tarot Salve & Phil Troy ?

Sprach-Dok. Kannst Du diese Mail weiter leiten?
Wie alt ist diese Post?

So easy a Neander aus dem Thal hat es geschafft!

Wenn es hart auf hart kommt! – Zerplatzt! Between a rock and a hard place! Zerdrückt und Zerplatzt!

Abgasstufe Es-Zett

Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thema: “Have it your WAY!” @ HO Gaststätte Bürger Kaiser.ddr

Meine Absicht ist vielleicht suspekt??
Ich wollte mit Deiner Mithife es beiseitigen
eine alte Erklärungsdefekt!

Die alten Posts aber, gelöscht ratzfatz!
und mein gutes (?) Vorhaben (?),
war mit Bomben und Granaten ,
unerwartet ZERPLATZT!!

Anscheinend mit Regel 13 bist Du ganz einverstanden,
Dein Upload Filter –
ist achon vorhanden!

Diese Seite soll ein Deutsches Wesen??
Bitte ,Wo oben sei ein Deutsches Wort anzusehen?
Auf deutschem Teller allzu oft hier aufgetischt,
unser Imbiss des Tages Englischhhh..ße!! ist!!!

”Pechwort (‘verblatzt’)” sorgt nun nur für Verdruss,
und mit dem ganzen ,
ist gleich endlich Schluß.

Ich lösche geleich die Seite hier,
und hole mir ein Stiegl Bier!
Ich drehe laut die Musikbox’,
und spiele Schlager,
und hitmusik Discofoxx!

Tomorrow is another day!


3 years ago

Hey guys,

I’m new here. I just wanted to say that I’m so grateful that this truly amazing community has been generous enough as to allow people like me, who otherwise couldn’t be members, the opportunity to be here.


3 years ago


Thank you for singing me up to the blog for a student like me. I greatly appreciate your assistance and members involved.


3 years ago

So how would you characterize the differences between anlocken, anziehen, and ködern?

3 years ago
Reply to  Jake

my 3 cents-
primarily used in this ”sense”’

anlocken = to entice with a suggestive action or possible promise of a reward
to me this word has a mostly negative connotation. meaning -There is a ”catch” or a ”trick”
lurking behind a facade. a verlocken ”light” –

OR ?????????

anziehen = 1. to pull om, or to put on something especially clothing. 2. to attract in a neutral or positive, pleasing
more honest open way. Always used with gravity, magnets and magnetism. Anziehungskraft

ködern = to attract with bait or a Lockvogeltaktik

3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks! I personally like the idea of Anlockungskraft.

Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
3 years ago

Thema : “Loose curls lure Thomas OF the sofa”.


Loose curls -poor Thomas von Sofa “off” did “rip”! (RIPPED – OFF!)

Any resemblance to real persons actual events, or a current,actively, written language – ist hier höchst unwahrscheinlich!

rip – to tear away or apart – to tear off
“rip-off” – a swindle – a quick, petty theft.
Sepp = Joe — German nickname for Josef
Junkers -old northeast area German snooty upper crust, often having ‘von’… surnames
Redondo Beach – California coastal town
couch surfing – to stay short periods in crash pads with other young friends
crashed out (aus) – asleep
Opa – grandfather Oma – grandmother
Traubensaft – slang for grape juice wine
fett – fat and slang for very drunk
“curl” – surfer term for the form of a giant ocean beach wave
”woodie” here meaning – old American kombi station wagen car with wooden exterior door trim. (in song lyrics -link ganz unten am Ende)


Cowabunga! –

an expression of surprise or amazement, often followed by “dude”

Surfer Freiherr Josef Thomas von Sofa,
hat Einhorn ähnlich, lockige Zopfe,
schaut haar genau so aus,
wie alte Fotos von Opa.

Der Sepp seine-Haar Farbe – blond-ocker.
faulenzt gern auf der Couch,- gelassen.
ein Dude sehr lässig und locker,
Abstammung aus Preussen,
Sein Groß Opa ein Junker!
Sepp wohnt in Redondo,
und heißt nun Joe surfer!

Eines abends von Wellen total erledigt,
surft er und sauft er mit allen gleichzeitig
sozusagen damit Du es weißt
genau was hier das heißt :
1. die Couch Kissen surfen,
2. die Traubensaft feierlich saufen,
weil Sepp gerade seinen Welt Cup Surf Titel
erfolgreich verteidigt !

Die hippen Surfettes und Surfduden
kosten wenn möglich,
lieber Wein aus dem Süden..

Nach fließend Prossecco,
Magnum Flaschen Sieger Runde’
bei Herr von Sofa,- von Saft – aufgelockert,
die Zopfe und Zunge.
Aber statt “Kühebunga” !!
mit deutschem Akzent,
kam :
Verdammte Sch..! aus dem Munde!
I haff now no dollars! Me fails it my zents!
Leer waren Flaschen.
Leer war die Tasche,
und die lockeren Haare, und Herr Sepp von Sofa
die zwei gleichzeitig,
waren jetzt unangenehm fett!!

Das Unheil geht weiter,
für den armen Brettreiter!

Crashpad Türklinke war schon lange
locker kaputt,
hinein schleicht heimlich,
in Strand Bikini bekleidet, verlockender
Lockvogel Süss-anne Surfett’,
und von dem lieben Joe-Sepp von Sofa
crash’t auf der Couch aus,
waren schnell weg,
sein Sieger T-Shirt , Pokal und Hut.
und sogar ‘was noch schlimmer
sein Sieger Surfbrett!


Abgazz Werke und Brennschere Fabrik Clara Zetkin VEB

“Nieeemand in der DDR hat die Absicht ein Surfbreti zu klauen! ” – W. Ulbricht Generalsekretär des ZK der SED 1963


3 years ago

I’ve been using this site for some time and finally I’m a member thanks to kind people who sponsored others. This place and a few children books a kind old German tourist gave me out of nowhere are my favorite sources for study :) Many thanks to you random stranger!

3 years ago

Emanuels Locken locken uns locker zur deutschen Grammatik.

3 years ago

dies ist locker die meister lockere quiz von der lockere mann, aber?

Hugh Warren
Hugh Warren
3 years ago

There are lots of people in the anglophone world ‘who have a screw loose’ too.

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
3 years ago
Reply to  Hugh Warren

Man kan nicht besser sagen .

3 years ago

Meiner bescheidenen Meinung nach sind Einhörner nur Vegetarier. Der Wanderer muss aus anderen Gründen gelockt worden sein!

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan

Was sind diese Gründe ihren Meinung nach ? Es siehst ein bischon wilkürlich diese Verhältnisse aus ,oder??

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ich meinte den Ausdruck ” der Wanderer muss gelockt werden …… ” damit bin nicht einverstanden .

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Hello Emanuel
Entschuldigunge mich . Es war ein Missverständnis meiner Seite! Ich habe zwei Wörter Wanderer und Einwanderer

Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
Rohrkrepierer ‐ KOOK & HECKLER
3 years ago
Reply to  Alan

”Der Wanderer” keusch und Jungfern rein,
muß auf jeden Fall ein Fräulein sein!

Das Einhorn -ein Frauenheld – ein Männerfeind.
Was normalerweise hinten ist,
und halb versteckt,
trägt er es vorn’
stolz herausgestreckt!
Sein Konstrukt ist gar nicht übel,
versorgt Blut ausreichend,
füf Kopf und Dübel!

Die Persil weiße Wahrheit
ZDF 9 Min.


3 years ago
Reply to  Alan

I told him this before. He does not understand that this is a prey animal, not a predator. The horn is only for protection, but he continues.

3 years ago

You seem concerned about that door handle…

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
3 years ago

Jetzt verstehe ich warum man sagt LOCKVOGEL für ein decoy . Das macht Sinn mit verb Locken !
Ausgeschnet wie immer . Vielen Dank.

3 years ago

Good morning!

I think there’s only one typo (“diplomat meeting”, either “diplomatic meeting” or “diplomats’ meeting”; picky stuff, I know!)
But your phrase “salt-less rice waffle” sounds a bit foreign, salt-free would be more appropriate. Also, “fixated” doesn’t mean fixed, but obsessed, so it’s not a good word for the door handle!

Cool to know that the idiom “The guy has a screw loose” translates literally to German!

Now a question of my own, abaout locks… or hair anyway:
What is right in German, Haar or Haare? For instance “Ich habe blondes Haar” or “Ich habe blonde Haare” ?

And please tell me you’re not eliminating the “get PDF” option from your articles; this “csv”, “flashcard app”, “memrise” talk is all Greek to me…

Bis bald!

3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Hi again,

Hey, nice that you waited for my corrections! I like being helpful and don’t mind waiting for the PDF (yes, I am a member!). By the way, if you write an article next week (between the 25th and the 30th), please don’t wait for my comment, because I’m going on holiday and I’ll be completely offline. When I don’t disconnect on holyday, then “werde ich total unlocker”! After I’m back, I’ll be as helpful as usual!

Thanks for the explanation about the hair, I have yet another question for you:
Can the verb “widerstehen” be used without the noun “Verlockung”, z.B. “Ich kann nicht es widerstehen, die Reiswaffel allein zu lassen”, would this be correct?

And thanks to your lovely assistant for the quiz!

3 years ago
Reply to  Elsa

I would say “unsalted rice cake”. Ya know, Styrofoam.