Prefix Advent Calendar – 7

Viel Spaß mit Tür Nummer 7!


Rühren is very old, and all throughout history the core idea was “mixing and stirring”, especially in sense of cooking. But people also used it in a broader sense of “to set in motion” with berühren being just a more directed sounding version of that. Now, one way to set something in motion is to touch it. And that’s what berühren is all about today, while rühren stuck with the stirring and moving. It can be both physical and emotional (and in the physical sense it has a very low intensity.)
die Berührung – the (gentle) touch
berührt (ge-form) – touched, emotionally moved
berührend – touching

  • Ich berühre dich am Arm/deinen Arm.
  • I (slighty) touch your arm.
  • Der Film hat mich tief berührt.
  • The movie deeply moved me.
  • Bitte die Gemälde nicht berühren.
  • Please don’t touch the paintings.

EDIT 2019:

If you want a detailed look at all the verbs with rühren, check out my article about it here:

Word of the Day – “rühren”


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6 years ago

How would you compare the relative gentleness/intensity of different “touch” verbs? I’m comparing German translations of Colossians 2:21, where there are two different verbs for “touch” involved, and they’re variously translated with berühren, anrühren, anfassen, and betasten – and different translations will use them for either verb. In the Greek, the first verb is more intense – my preferred English translation has “handle” for the first and “touch” for the second.

I looked at the post on “Taste/tasten” too, and I generally get the sense that berühren is lightest, with the “an-” prefix tending to up the intensity, and “anfassen” or “betasten” are more intense, but I’m not too sure.

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Well, with the preceding verse for context:

– If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—“Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”? (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?

So the context doesn’t really help much – it’s just a general characterization of rules somebody has made up. But the feel of the list is that the commandments get progressively more restrictive, from telling people not to use/consume things to the point of forbidding all contact. It’s just funny that the German translations seem pretty arbitrary in how they translate the list:

– berühre das nicht, iss nicht davon, fass das nicht an (Einheitsübersetzung)
– rühre das nicht an, koste jenes nicht, betaste dies nicht (Schlachter)
– du sollst das nicht anfassen, du sollst das nicht kosten, du sollst das nicht anrühren (Luther)
– du darfst dieses nicht anfassen, jenes nicht essen und ganz bestimmte Dinge nicht berühren (Hoffnung für Alle)

The first one and the last one basically reverse the verbs – and the least modern (Luther) and most modern (HfA) are the most similar to each other. It’s just weird. :)

6 years ago

And it rhymes with verführen (previous post)! … Ich höre zu viel Helene Fischer zu.

6 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Aus 2007, also ein bisschen alt! Das wusste ich nicht. Ich beschuldige Youtube – da sind alle Songs immer neu.