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.

  • Liebe Maria, heute bin ich in Berlin angekommen…
  • Dear Maria, today I arrived in Berlin…
  • Keine Angst, keine Angst! Der tut nichts… der ist ganz lieb.
  • Don’t worry, don’t worry! He’s not gonna do anything… he’s a good dog.

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.Liebling, derder

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.

  • Was ist dein Lieblingsfilm?
  • What’s your favorite movie?
  • Was ist dein Lieblingslied?
  • What’s your favorite song?
  • Was ist dein Lieblingsessen?
  • What’s your favorite food?
  • Was ist deine Lieblingsfarbe?
  • What’s your favorite color?
  • 2020 war mein Lieblingsjahr… NICHT!
  • 2020 was my favorite year… NOT!

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

  • Oh Gott, die haben Tastybier™ hier??? Das ist mein LieblingsBIER!

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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Anonymous
Anonymous
2 days ago

Gruss Gott meine libchens, willkommen

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 days ago

Is “Gruss Gott meine liebling willkommen” Correct

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

das ist mein zimmer es ist hell und ish bin sher gernehier

Gin
Gin
2 years ago

What’s about “lieblingsauto” ? Its right sentences ?

Leo
Leo
3 years ago

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.

Sarahswids
Sarahswids
4 years ago

Meine lieblingsära ist die Modernära.

steen505
4 years ago

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

bohemond
bohemond
4 years ago

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

roger
roger
4 years ago

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.

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.

Georgeann
6 years ago

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!

ellem910
ellem910
7 years ago

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).

ellem910
ellem910
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Haha. Ach, Mist, ich wurde anfangen, meinen Mann Töffel zu nennen. j/k :)
Also, danke für die Erklärung!

nadgerz
nadgerz
7 years ago

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 :)

drachen34
drachen34
7 years ago

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

drachen34
drachen34
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Right. That’s what I meant to say. The English “-ling” might not have the diminutive qualities that some have suggested, but the German “-chen” certainly does.

alexviajero
alexviajero
8 years ago

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 ;-)

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Alex is right (although “lordling” is familiar from somewhere). “Seedling” is the only normal word Alina listed. I was surprised, actually, that she didn’t mention probably the most common English “-ling” that would occur to me: “weakling.”

There is definitely sort of a smallness vibe to “-ling,” though… a seedling is sort of a baby plant, and a weakling sounds like someone small as well as weak, at least to me.

MacFeagle
MacFeagle
7 years ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

Actually there are quite a few -ling words and they do imply something small and defenceless
Duckling = a young and small duck
suckling = a young animal, usually a piglet but actually anything that is still on the teat
Hatchling = a newly hatched bird,
fledgeling = a young bird before it has adult plummage
Fosterling, foundling, helpless child without adults
Hireling = somone at the lowest rung of the job market, willing to do anything for money
Earthling = an inhabitant of planet earth, a weak creature according to a powerful alien (allegedly)
Codling = a young cod
Gosling = a young goose
I could go on.

berlingrabers
7 years ago
Reply to  MacFeagle

Looking at a couple of online dictionary resources, I guess “-ling” is taken to be a diminutive suffix. But in a lot of the cases you list, it’s really a matter of overlap between “-ling” as a way to turn a verb into a description of a person/animal and the diminutive sense:
– suckling = animal that still suckles
– hatchling = animal that has hatched
– fledgling = animal that has fledged (this is apparently an actual verb)
– foundling = person (OK, it always refers to a child) who has been found (I guess “fosterling” is a thing, but I’ve never heard it in the US)
– hireling = person who has been hired

“Hireling” doesn’t have the connotation to me that you list, at least in terms of “willing to do anything for money” – it just means a hired worker rather than a career professional. I think it does have a bit of a “bottom of the totem pole” sound (or possibly “new guy”), but again, that’s also a function of the fact of just having been hired.

But “duckling,” “gosling,” and “earthling” are pretty clear diminutives, so I don’t want to be too contrary about it.

I have never in all my years heard of a “codling.” :)

alina
alina
8 years ago

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

alina
alina
8 years ago

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 …

Dr.stone
Dr.stone
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

He is thinking of -chen propably