Word of the Day – “die Enttäuschung”

enttauschung-picture

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. And this time, we’ll take a look at the meaning of

die Enttäuschung

Starts with ent and if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan like I am, chances are that you’ll think of the Ents in Lord of the Rings.
You know… these tree beings that put and end to Saruman’s hold on lands.
Which is a REALLY great transition because…

…German ent- kind of does the same.
Like… enthaaren which means to remove hair or entwickeln  which literally means to unwrap. The actual translation is to develop because, I guess, unwrapping is basically removing an envelop… envelop, develop. Envelop, develop. That is kind of dumb though, when you think about it … as if fridges, computers and the string theory have always been there and humanity just unwrapped them. German is really dumb sometimes. Hey, if all humans are the humanity, are all authors the authority? And the ice bears  the ice bearity? Just wondering… I really can’t focus on German today. Where was I … uh yeah, ent… part of its meaning is putting an end to things.
And so we get to täuschen.
Täuschen is the core and heart of Enttäuschung and it means…  but oh no.
Of course Emanuel will have us suffer through some boring history first. So ,the origin of täuschen is a word tiuschen which meant “to fool someone into something”.  And for a while, tiuschen was also a word for to trade. Haha. Yeah. I can see that. There is quite a bit of cheating going on in trade. However, using the same word for fooling someone and trading maybe isn’t such a good idea. Doesn’t build much trust, I guess. So the bastard tiuschen soon split into a light and a dark side. The light side is  tauschen. Now, this split happened before money got to dominate all the trading which is why tauschen today basically means to exchange. I give you something, and you give me something in return.

  • Wir tauschen Telefonnummern.
  • We exchange phone numbers.
  • Früher gab es viel Tauschhandel.
  • Back a few hundred years there used to be a lot of barter (exchange trade).

The German word for the money based to trade is handeln. So, tauschen is the light twin. The dark twin is täuschen. It has been stripped of all notion of trading or exchange and only the fooling part remained. That’s why it today means to deceive.

  • Ich täusche dich.
  • I fool/deceive you.

There is also a reflexive use of it, which is quite common. You basically deceive yourself about a matter.

  • Ich habe mich in dir getäuscht.
  • I deceived myself about you. (lit.)
  • I was wrong about you.

So, this was the history. That wasn’t as boring as I thought actually. For once. Now, we have the parts ent with its meaning of ending things and täuschen as to deceive. So enttäuschen should literally be

  • to undeceive

Let me see what it really means… oh my god… check this out. It means

  • to disappoint

Wow. This is explains so much. My god. So when they want to say:

  • You have disappointed me.

they are actually saying:

  • You have undeceived me.(lit.)
  • Du hast mich enttäuscht.

Or when they want to say this:

  • I am disappointed.

they would say:

  • I have been undeceived… or in other words… I see the truth now.
  • Ich bin enttäuscht.

Like… as if reality is mostly worse than the expectations. I don’t know about you but in my opinion this totally shines a new light on the German meh-ness.  You know… this lack of excitement. Like… you walk up to your German friend and say

“Hey,  we’re going to this cool lake and we’ll have a BBQ, swim, sing songs
and drink beer while the sun sets. You have to come. It’s gonna be AWESOME!!!!”

and he or she is just like

“Hmmm, I don’t know, we don’t have a grill, do we? Is that even legal to
BBQ there, is the water of the lake clean enough to swim there, is it even
legal to swim there, there are probably mosquitoes, I don’t really do BBQ
because the grease drips
 into the fire and the smoke of that can cause cance
r”

Now I understand. In their view, reality is… well…  sub-optimal. Or… a dismal bitch. And when something sounds all too pleasant… or just a bit pleasant…  then it is likely just a deception. They don’t want to get their hopes up so the certain let down will be gentle. Because as long as they are not disappointed i.e. undeceived, they are … deceived.
Okay, I don’t know if I am really making sense right now, but seriously. The word enttäuschen did evolve that way – from undeceive to disappoint – but as of today, most Germans aren’t aware of that connection at all.  It feels like two completely separate verbs. Maybe like cover and to discover. The connection is super obvious and still not everyone is consciously aware of it.
So… the verb enttäuschen means to disappoint and of course that means that the noun is disappointment.

  • Der Film war eine große Enttäuschung.
  • The movie was a big disappointment.

And there adjectives derived from the verb, too.

  • Der Film war enttäuschend.
  • The movie was disappointing.
  • Ich bin sehr enttäuscht von diesem Film.
  • I am very disappointed by this movie.

The last example also shows the preposition that comes with it… it is von. You’re “disappointed von”. I think I’ve seen also über in that context but von is the proper one.
And that’s it. Thank god, it was that short. I mean… there were some interesting bits here and there but by and large today’s word was a disappointment for me. But there’s a good side to it because now I know never to get my hopes up. Emanuel just keeps promising things and then never delivers. But now I know better. What’s that? Noch is coming really really soon? And the secret of fluency too? Yeah right, all that’ll  secrete fluently is my nose probably. And … oh my god, these puns. Can someone please tell him to stop. I’m out of here but let me set you up for 7 days of pleasant surprises.
Your week will suck!!
;)

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demoneyes136
demoneyes136
3 years ago

–“The word enttäuschen did evolve that way – from undeceive to disappoint – but as of today, most Germans aren’t aware of that connection at all. It feels like two completely separate verbs. ”
Of course one could point out that “disappoint” and “appoint” are also completely separate verbs in English in a way that, say, “disappear” and “appear” are not! You can’t be “disappointed” from your job or position! A quick Google suggests it started with that meaning (from old French), but switched in the 15th century. So we are in no position to throw stones! :)

Theo
Theo
7 years ago

I was going to make the point that Henrik makes: the semantic evolution of Enttäuschung is very close to that of Engish “disillusionment”.

David
8 years ago

I love your site for providing such impressive lessons German language. It would really help all those people thinking to learn the German language.

Mike
Mike
8 years ago

My having learned a list of basic verbs without the prefixes set me back a long way. New learners: See if you can find a book with a reasonable number of prefixes for each base verb. That way, you see verbs like täuschen and enttäuschen and get the sense of the difference. Somebody told me you will “pick up the idiomatic ones” as you go along, aber leider bin ich ein Mann, der gegen die Wand täglich sprechen muss. Looking back, you can often see the relationships, but no way you can do that while listening to speech. Once I learned about 400 of these by brute force, I understood a lot more. You once said German loves verbs; it ADORES prefixed verbs. Learn as many as you can, so you don’t learn ankommen as a brand new verb, but as a special form of kommen; abbringen makes sense, once you see it, but in the meantime, learn “dissuade”; beibringen means “teach,” in the sense of what I had to do (and learned that verb after 3+ years). If you watch SoKo, you know all about umbringen, freilassen, freikaufen, entführen, festnehmen, and ermitteln. Übringens, I find SoKo Leipzig the most understandable, regardless what people say about accents there.

Henrik
Henrik
8 years ago

Similiar to “enttäuschen” is “desillusionieren”, which also exists in English “to disillusion”. Maybe that can be a bridge.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Just saw the link to this ‘word of the day’ and thought YES!, what a wonderful word to talk and philosophise about. And you did not disapoint me. But I might be deceived ;)

BTW “Because as long as they are not disappointed e.g. undeceived, they are … deceived.” I would say thats the quintessence of it, but don’t you mean “id est” instead of “exampli gratia” ?!

Toller Text!
Danke, Dein
Schlaubi Schlumpf

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Amazing! Keep it up!

Paul Speirs
Paul Speirs
8 years ago

Super hilfreich wie immer. Ich bin im augenblick in frankreich bleiben und ich musse sagen, dass das wetter wird enttäuschend. es gibt regen und die temperatur wird kalt. es war nicht so schlecht letzte jahre aber ich war im herbst hier arbeiten.

kommt mein deutsch weiter oder?

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Könntest du mal über zwei umgangssprachliche Strukturen erzählen, die anscheinend dem kontinuierlichen Tempus entsprechen, und zwar: “ich bin einkaufen”, “ich bin am Einkaufen”?

Paul Speirs
Paul Speirs
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

zuerst…
oh, ja genau. Ich weiß nicht, warum ich sagte dass. ich habe eine andere Fehler gemacht :p könnte es nicht sein, “ich bleibe” heißt “i stay” und “i am staying”? musst man immer “gerade” benutzen? kann ich sagen “ich bleibe gerade” oder sollte der wort “gerade” mit “sein” gehören? ( I might have made a total arse of that question :O )

und weiter…
ich dachte, du hast früher gesagt (in einem anderen Gespräch), sofern der satz ist nicht spezifisch, keiner verstehen kann. ich werde verwirrt :(

zuletzt…
ok, es tut mir leid. das weiß ich nicht, wenn du eine Doppelfrage auf deutsch benutzt, keiner es mögen.

ja, es gibt in frankreich sehr gutes essen und getränke

danke für deine Antwort und Geduld.

alexviajero
alexviajero
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

**“Bleiben” in Deutsch ist viel mehr “not leaving” als in English, wo es auch ein bisschen “to live as in live in a flat” heißt.**

This is very timely. Our teacher was explaining again to us in class this week when to use “haben” and when to use “sein” when forming the conversational past tense. The idea of using “sein” when there is a change in condition made sense for the most part and in most cases, except when the verb “bleiben” came up. None of us could understand how “to not leave” as you put it, could be a change in condition, and why we would say “ist geblieben” instead of “hat geblieben”… Your explanation here, that “bleiben” means much more than “stay” in German makes perfect sense now, and I’ll share this notion with some classmates during the next class. Very informative, and many thanks!

alexviajero
alexviajero
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yes, yes, I don’t think I expressed what I meant very well, initially. But your clarification here was REALLY helpful. I hadn’t yet read your article on “haben or sein” (which I have now read) where you do specifically mention “bleiben” as not conforming to the movement of the soul rule… I don’t know, maybe I’m inventing here, but it does seem to me that the idea of movement (specifically, actively NOT moving) is the idea of why “bleiben” needs “sein.” Well, it works for me now, permanently I think, so mission accomplished! ;-)) Looking forward to the Wo(es)!

unsandled
unsandled
8 years ago

No post this week would have been a real ‘Enttäuschung’. I appreciate your commitment to post every week.

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

For the love of God, could you please do a post about the meaning of the word >>>>> bloß? <<<<< =D I would be very very very thankful!.

Mia Simó
8 years ago

Keep up the funny writing! It helps me associate the word with other concepts. You’re cool.

Kimil
Kimil
8 years ago

Hi! Is there a way to have this sent to my email daily? This is amazing and inspiring! Never mind! It just popped up! Haha!

Guilherme
Guilherme
8 years ago

I’m not gonna lie, this article was kinda enttäuschend

haro
haro
8 years ago

dieser eintrag war die – bezüglich dieses blogs – erste enttäuschung…

pamasich
8 years ago

Dachte nicht, dass ich noch etwas über Herr der Ringe lernen könnte :D

Also wenn “enttäuschen” nicht von “entration ‘zyr” abstammt, was wurde aus diesem dämonischen Wort dann? :3

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader
8 years ago

“I think the rule of thumb was something like, when a prefix contains no other vowel than “e”, it is inseparable.”

Like weg and her and… oh wait… ;)

Eric
Eric
8 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Das ist ein neuer Regel für mich. Ich habe gelernt, dass wenn man Druck auf dem Präfix setzen sollte, ist es ein trennbares zusammengesetztes Verb, und wenn das Druck auf dem Verb gelegt wird, ist es ein untrennbares zusammengesetzes Verb.

Omu
Omu
8 years ago

Your writing is useful as it is funny… You give my German learning process another chance… Probably the last one ;)

leo odongo
leo odongo
8 years ago

Vielen Dank. Sehr gut. LEO