Word of the Day – “Liebling”

Hello everyone, heart

and welcome to our German word of today. This time we will have a look at the meaning of:

(der) Liebling

 

Now you might say: “Wait, I know where that comes from – from Liebe…  looooove!”
And you’re totally right. Die Liebe and Liebling have the same origin and stem: lieb.
Lieb can mean various things but they’re all somewhere between the poles dear, nice and well-behaved.

The second one is something you often get to hear from old ladies when their little dog barks at you as if you just took away its bone.
You have to be careful though because lieb does not apply to things the way dear or nice do. If your room looks lieb, it looks like the room of a person who is not going to harm anyone and if a good beer is lieb to you, it means that it treats you nicely and makes all your worries disappear but it does not mean that the beer is dear to you. So it’s better to use lieb only for living things for now.

But back to our actual word of the day Liebling. The two best translations in my opinion are darling and sweetheart. You can use it for your dog but of course is also used by lovers of all ages. Now, there are many words lovers call one another. The animal kingdom provides dozens of possibilities like

Hase (bunny),
Maus (mouse) ,
Schnecke (snail.. only for women) or
Bär (bear)

 

Bär is probably only for men though, unless she is really huge and furr… uhm, anyway.
The most common one, according to the German Wikipedia, is Schatz.

Schatz literally means treasure so it is not a bad choice but the pronunciation really brings it down a bit because it sounds like… shots or shuts.
Imagine yourself on a couch in a candle-lit room sipping red wine … do you really want to break the silence with “SHOTS!”? A soft “Liebling“, possibly with a sexy tongue flap for the ‘l’-sounds, might be more fitting.

Now, if you have had a look at the Wikipedia-list of the most common words of endearment in German you might wonder why we even have to learn Liebling since it barely made it onto the list…”.
Well, even when you’re on your first date and you’re far from calling the other person Liebling, it is still is a very handy word to know as it also means favorite. Well, you’ll have to put a little ‘s’ at the end and add a noun. But once you got the hang of that you can exhaustively interrogate your love interest about his or her likings.

Now, it’s important to note that Lieblings alone doesn’t work. So if you want to say something like :

  •  “Oh my god, they have Tastybeer ™ here??? That is my favorite!!!”

you absolutely HAVE TO say beer again

Don’t just say “… das ist mein Liebling.”. That sounds really odd unless you’re talking about your partner.

All right. To wrap this up, here is that little bit of grammar you have all been waiting for.
The plural of Liebling is die Lieblinge. You don’t have to add extra letters except for case 3 plural where you will have to add an ‘n’. It just never gets old.
So that’s it for today. If you have any questions or if you want to try out the word and tell me what your favorite something is, just leave me a comment.
Hope you enjoyed the word of the day and see you next time.

Oh…  in case you ended up here doing a Google search for “Leibling”  let me assure you that it is NOT a German word. If you have seen it somewhere it must be a typo.

** vocab **

mein Liebling – my darling
Lieblingslied – favorite song
Lieblingsessen – favorite meal
Lieblingsblog – favorite blog
die Schnecke – the snail
der Hase – the rabbit
der Bär – the bear
lieb – nice, dear, well-behaved
lieben – to love
liebenswert – lovely (rare)
der Schatz – the treasure, also used as “darling”

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Test yourself on Liebling!

1 / 6

What does the adjective “lieb”  NOT mean?

2 / 6

What does Liebling mean?

3 / 6

Which of these is a really common term of endearment among German couples?

4 / 6

Which of the following sentence is really common mistake among language learners?

5 / 6

What’s the proper way to express that something is our favorite of something in German?

6 / 6

How would you sayWow, that is my favorite!”

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alina
alina

by any chance “-ling” it’s a diminutive suffix like in english? or one that softens things? in english there are wolfling, sweetling, fosterling, lordling, nestling, seedling …

alina
alina

thanks a lot! yeah, it is not productive any longer but the resemblance seemed interesting to me so I had to ask :D

alexviajero
alexviajero

Very well explained and interesting. I had sort of figured out the “liebling- ” usage, but this essay put it all into perfect place for me! Thanks!
By the way, referring to Alina’s comment on -ling being a diminutive in English, those words in that list may be found in obscure poetry (and do exist in dictionaries), but I have never heard the words “lordling” or “sweetling” or “nestling” etc., spoken, or seen them written, in my life, ever… The only word from that list that has some currency in regular English is “seedling” but this is not a diminutive of the word “seed”. A seedling is a small plant, grown from a seed, that is now ready to be transplanted into a garden or into nature to grow on its own. So, just to set the record straight, adding -ling to words in English would sound awkward and most people would probably not have a clue what they mean. Just my 2 cents ;-)

drachen34
drachen34

Isn’t the German suffix -chen a better equivalent for the English -ling, or at least a diminutive; as in Hundchen, Kätzchen, or Meerschweinchen?

nadgerz

I think we (ok, maybe I) sometimes use -ling in English conversation to mean ‘a type of X’ or ‘an X thingy’, as in ‘it is not a full X but a sort of X’ or ‘an almost X’. Just a complete aside :)

ellem910
ellem910

Aus dem Wikipedia Artikel: »Zehn Prozent der Deutschen werden bei der Wahl des Kosenamens noch kreativer und setzen auf Eigenkreationen, wie “Hexe”, “Töffel” oder “Dickerchen”.«
hehe. Hexe, ehrlich?
Vermute es gar nicht so schlecht ist, wir haben auch Dickerchen/”fatty” auf Englisch (jedenfalls für Babys).

Georgeann

Glad I found this blog! I am trying to learn German, and looking for great resources. Ich liebe die Idee von einem Wort des Tages!

Ahm! Stein! (@Ahmmstein)

How common is “Favorit” in place of Lieblingsthing? Could I use Favorit if I wanted to get around having to repeat myself? For example, if I want to say, “Of the six band members, Paul is my favorite.”
“Von den 6 Bandmitglieder, ist Paul mein Lieblingsbandmitglied.” (seems redundant)
“Von den 6 Bandmitglieder, ist Paul mein Favorit.” (seems less redundant)
Or would it be better just to rephrase: “Paul ist mein Lieblingsbandmitglied, aus den 6.”
Please advise and, if you don’t mind, please correct my very guessy grammar. Thanks in advance!

Of the six band members, Paul is my favorite.

roger
roger

sry for necro, but I would like to answer Ahmmstein’s question:

while the variants using “Lieblingsbandmitglied” are correct, they sound a bit odd. Where I live (Bavaria) it is more usual to say

“Of the six band members, I like X most.”

in German:

“Von den sechs Bandmitgliedern, mag ich X am meisten.” regional
“Von den sechs Bandmitgliedern, gefällt mir X am besten.” Hochdeutsch

Very nice article and comments – nuances that I never thought of, thank you.

bohemond
bohemond

on this example : “Keine Angst, keine Angst ! Der tut nights … der ist ganz lieb.” Shouldn’t be :… Er tut nichts er ist ganz lieb.???

steen505

If I have more than one girlfriend, can I say my Lieblingsliebling? To all of them, of course. ;)

Sarahswids
Sarahswids

Meine lieblingsära ist die Modernära.

Leo
Leo

Thank you very much for this wonderful post. How would one fit in Lieblings- to an noun phrase with multiple adjectives? For instance, how would one say “That’s my favourite modern german poet”? Thank you very much in advance.