and welcome to our German Word of the Day. Which is actually more like the German Word of the … I don’t know… of ever? Because today, we’ll look at the meaning of
Feierabend is a thing that every employee around the world is looking forward to with joy, and yet the term does not really exist in many languages.
Feierabend consists of the two parts Feier and Abend. Die Feier has its origin in the Latin feriae, which meant something like a day without any business activities’. So Feier is actually related to the German word die Ferien which is the holidays for students and pupils. Adult working class citizens have something different… they have Urlaub, which is not as often and not as long, but I digress.
Eine Feier is a celebration or a party and so it comes in a number of compounds nouns such as Weihnachtsfeier (Christmas party), Geburtstagsfeier (birthday party), Hochzeitsfeier (wedding reception) or Osterfeuer…. oh wait … the last one means easter fire. The pronunciation of Feuer is not so different to Feier so pay attention there.
- Feier vs. Feuer
There is also the verb feiern. Feiern originally means to celebrate but especially younger people use it also in sense of to party. If that is not intense enough for you, you may add the prefix ab to make it a real blast… so abfeiern is really partyin’ it out.
- Am Samstag gehe ich feiern.
- On Saturday, I’m going to go party.
- Im Sommer fahre ich zu einem Festival. Ich will so richtig abfeiern.
- In summer I will go to a festival. I want to party hard.
The second part of Feierabend is Abend and it means evening. Note that the German evening lasts longer than the English one does, so it is also used in sense of night. The question “What are you doing tonight” translated literally using Nacht might sound a little salacious or the answer might just be “Sleep. Why?” The correct question in German is:
- Was machst du heute Abend?
- What are you going to do tonight?
So now lets put the 2 parts Feier and Abend together and see what that would be
hmmmm… party-night I guess.
Niiiiiiiiice! I sure wanne have that. What was that in the beginning? Every employee has it? So it’s like .. I should get a job or something to get free party-night?
Exactly… because Feierabend is the moment when you have finished your work and there is not really a translation for that… by the way, it is actually strange that there is all these grumpy faces in Berlin subway at 5 pm as they all have party-night… well I guess it’s more inside :)
- Schönen Feierabend!
This is one of THE MOST used goodbye-phrases amongst colleagues. And it doesn’t matter whether it actually IS evening or not. It is also used by two night nurses at 8 am to say goodbye and you can also say it when your coworker, who is only a part time, leaves the office at noon.
The duration of Feierabend is hard to grasp but I tend to say that it is a rather short time as there is phrasings like the following:
- I got off work at 6.
- Ich hatte um 6 Feierabend.
- What are you going to do after you finish work.
- Was machst du heute nach Feierabend.
The first examples also show the main usage. Feierabend is something you usually HAVE but if it is up to you to decide when your task is finished you can also MAKE Feierabend.
- Ich mache heute schon um 3 Feierabend.
Now before we wrap this up with a little grammar… yeah I know…. let’s list some people who finish hard hard work every day and yet they don’t have party-night, they just have Schluss:
Hah! You can’t really use Feierabend unless it is something job-related you are finishing. So if you want it, get a job!
The grammar is going to be really quick and might actually fit in one line if only I wouldn’t spend so much time to introd… ok sorry, I am about to have my Feierabend too, so I am a little silly right now. The plural of Feierabend is Feierabende, yet it is rarely ever used. And here is the little gender reminder… it is of course DER Feierabend so it is masculine because MEN work while women enjoy their Freizeit (free time) which is hence die Freizeit… what’s that? Not 1950 anymore?… true true true.. but back then when the articles were forged by those wise men, those were the days I tell ya’.
Disclaimer:all the gender-related stereotypes are solely used
for joke purposes!!
There is no reason why women shouldn't do everything men do...
except for not sitting down on the toilet.
Schönen Feierabend and see you next time.
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What does die Feier mean?
What does abfeiern mean?
What is a Feierabend?
Which of the following verbs can NOT be used with Feierabend?
Who has Ferien? (multiple answers)
Which of the following statements does NOT work when your colleague is about to call it a day?
** vocab **
der Feierabend – well.. you got the idea
der Urlaub – vacation for working people or vacation trip
die Ferien – vacation for Students and pupils
der Abend – the evening
feiern – celebrate
feiern gehen – go party
Ironically, no one should sit on toilet either. It’s not healthy.
Oh you mean because squatting is more conducive to the poo leaving the body?
Yeah, but most people can’t hold a squat these days :)
It can also be used in the imperative to mean end of discussion.
Oh, good one!! Thanks for mentioning that.
Ich bin Lehrer/professor . Habe ich im Sommer Ferien mit meine Studenten oder Urlaub mit meine Kollegen ? Ich denke Urlaub aber…
Ich würde sagen, du hast Urlaub, während der Ferien. Aber da müsste ich mal einen deutschen Lehrer fragen, was die sagen :).
Das klingt mir richtig – aber ich weiß kaum etwas. Danke immer.
‘mit meinen Studenten… mit meinen Kollegen’
Ich kanns dir nicht gramatisch erklären aber ich weiss wie es sich anhören sollte.
Oh stimmt, das habe ich übersehen.
Der grammatische Term ist “n-Deklination” auch bekannt als “Langeweile”
Hey there, I know this is an ancient post, but just to let you know, the information isn’t correct. Feierabend has nothing to do with feiern or Feuer at all; it comes from an older German expression (virabent) that means “the evening before a holiday “. It just happens to sound similar.
Well, of course it’s not literally “party-night” but as I note in the intro already, “feiern” and “Ferien” are close relatives, so Feierabend DOES have a connection to “feiern”.
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Ich erinnere mich an einen Tierartzt in Paris namens Dr Feierabend. Er war oft abwesend… Jetz weiss ich, warum ;) Danke
Hahaha… was für ein schöner Name :)
Sorry to be so anal, but “What are you going to do after you finished work” is ungrammatical. Could you please correct it :)? The right tense to use in this subordinate clause is the simple present tense, so “after you finish work”. (I would say “after you are done with work”.. but that’s personal taste)
Done :). Thanks for the correction!!!
Thanks! Feierabend, when hollered by the bartender definitely meant drink up and get out. :) it was like a two minute warning.
Your other answer has solved a long held family mystery. Can’t wait to tell my mother! Sv
Actually… I just looked up “Feieromd” just out of curiosity and turns out it is a song from the Erzgebirge region. That would be Saxonia (which borders on Bavaria in the south). That#s not to say that Bavaria doesn’t say “Feieromd”, too. But I guess not only them.
As a college student in Heidelberg, I often heard the bartenders shouting “feierabend” as a way to mean (I thought) last call. Would that also be a correct understanding of the word?
Second question, my mother had a little wall hanging she purchased in East Berlin back in the late 70s that said something like “ist feier’omd.” The hanging has long been lost in a move, but would that have been a colloquialism for feierabend?
Working in a bar myself I would use Feierabend if I wanted the people to actually leave, but there’s no rule that says the other us is wrong or anything. Context will make it clear and maybe in the region it’s the standard wording.
As for “Feier’omd” … yup, that looks like Bavarian dialect to me.
which they speak in east germany
Wait, are you saying they speak Bavarian in East Germany? Because no, that’s not true :)
Clocking out would be another. Knocking off has another connotation in these neck of the woods. Akin to knocking one out.
Which neck of the woods are you from :)?
Happy hour, anyone?
In Australia we don’t have a direct translation but ‘beer o’clock’ comes close.
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Can it be translated to afterwork, maybe?
I don’t know… I’ve not worked in the English speaking world so I can’t tell whether “afterwork” is idiomatic in the situation where “Feierabend” is used.
The first time I heard “Feierabend” while living in Germany my first thoughts were, “Hey, where’s the party at? And what are we celebrating?!”
It really is a cool word to describe being done for the day and I have borrowed it from German into English everytime I am really excited that my work day is over. Also, another mis-understanding I initially had was that “Feierabend” referred to weekend or Friday night….beginner’s hallucinations!
Thanks for an excellent blog post. Enjoyed it throughly especially the disclaimer!
I’ve tried before to explain what this beautiful words means, and the closest English expression I could find comes from 1980s American beer ads: “it’s Miller time!” it’s the same sentiment, at least.
That’s how I’ve always translated it, too.
Knocking off is also used in British English and you’ve got the sense of it perfectly as in “I’m out of here, who cares if the job is done?”
We also use quitting time but that’s specifically the time you knock off.
As you say, there’s no word in English for the evening once work is done othet than simply Evening.
The first time i heard “schönen Feierabend” was from my boss as I knocked off one evening, i assumed he was sarcastically wishing me fun at a party or something because i was going home before he was.
Haha… that’s a neat little “lost in translation”-story :)
In Australian English we call this “knock-off”, e.g. “Knock-off is at five-thirty.” It’s a phrasal verb as well – “I’m knocking off early tomorrow.” Not sure if it can be pluralised though, sounds a bit weird to say “All his knock-offs are early”, more like “He always knocks off early.” :)
That’s really cool :).
– Er macht immer früh Feierabend.
I always had problems to translate this
– He always finishes work early… doesn’t work
– He alwas leaves work early … doesn’t really work
– He always knocks off early.
that is just prefect. It doesn’t imply finishing the work, neither does it focus on the leaving. It has this “All right. That’s it for today. I’m out.” feel to it :)
I hope some Brits and Americans speak up if that works for them, too
“Knocking off” isn’t idiomatic for me, but I’d understand it in context. “Calling it a day” or “cutting out” are the first expressions that come to mind for me for “Feierabend machen,” or for “Feierabend haben,” I’d just say “get/be off (work).”
– All right, I’m calling it a day.
– He always cuts out early on Fridays.
– Wanna get a beer after work Thursday? When do you get off?
Nothing that matches the charm of “Feierabend,” though.
You might also like to explain POETS :-)
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh…. nice. In German we say
“Freitag nach eins macht jeder seins.”
Je mehr ich dieses Blog lese, desto interessanter wird Deutsch! You are amazing!
Das freut mich :D…
Der Feierabend is closely related in concept to the American notion of “quitting time” which is a bit celebratory, short duration, and leading to your regular evening.
Thank you for this! You manage to effectively communicate the meaning of a word and a concept that does not exist in English.
Cool, great to hear that :)