Word of the Day – “sauer”

Written By: Emanuel Updated: March 17, 2022

2 meanings of sauerHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we will take a look at the meaning of:


Just based on sound, sauer is definitely not the hardest word to figure out. It is sour, one of the five taste dimension.
What’s that you say? You want to know all of ’em in German? Well, great… thanks a lot for the unexpected extra work guys! Now I have to get  volumes of dictionaries and encyclopedias from my shelf and read up on that…. ugh… those heavy books… but okay, let’s do it.

First, there is that taste of sugar…  I think that’s called fat. Oh wait no, that was the result of sugar, the taste is uhm…  (turning pages)… oh yeah it is sweet, which is süß in German. And yes, you can use it for people, too.
But not for baby animals. The proper word for them is süüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüß.
Calling a baby seal just süß is almost derogatory.
The next basic taste is salty which in German is salzig. Then, we have  bitter which in German is bitter.
And then there is this taste that nobody knows: umami; also referred to as savoriness. This is the taste of for example glutamate, the  magic poweder that can turn maroon dust into a tomato soup. The word umami is Japanese and while theoretically you can use it in German, too, most people wouldn’t know what you mean.

Anyway, so these were the other basic tastes and now we get back to the taste of lemons or shitty white wine… sour.

  • Zitronen sind sauer.
  • Lemons are sour.
  • Die Milch ist sauer.
  • The milk is sour.
  • Heute esse ich Curry süß-sauer.
  • Today, I’ll eat  sweet and sour curry.

Sauer is also the German word for acidic, so if you are a chemist, don’t hesitate to use it.
It is scientifically correct. The German word for the acid is die Säure by the way.

Now, knowing what sour and acidic means is fine, but it’s not really that interesting either.
What makes sauer super useful in pretty much any domain except for Buddhism is its second meaning.

  • Ich bin sauer.

This is a very very common way to say that you are pissed of.
There are other ways to say that but they all have their drawbacks. Wütend for example is a bit too strong, it is more like in rage. Angepisst is fine but a bit too colloquial. Unless you are working in an Internet start up company you shouldn’t use angepisst to express your feelings in a meeting. Ärgerlich is about the same degree of anger as sauer but it is a bit cumbersome to pronounce.

  • Ich bin ärgerlich.

You just lose all momentum while you say ärgerlich. Sauer on the other hand makes it a cool sounding punch line. If you are REALLY pissed of you can also add stink, which literally means something like stinkingly.

  • Ich bin stinksauer.

So there you go… when you are hustling with the German cases yet another time just yell out this sentence and they will disappear… OK they won’t…
If you want to say that something pisses you of you could technically use sauer machen (to make angry).

  • Dein Kleid macht mich sauer.
  • Your dress is pissing me off.

But this is not the best way to say it. You will be understood but nerven, or other translations for to annoy are the better choice if you are eager to spend a the night on the couch.
And which preposition do you have to use if you are mad at someone or about something? In German you can be sauer auf or über, meaning at and about respectively.

  • Thomas ist sauer auf seine Freundin.
  • Thomas is mad at his girlfriend.
  • Maria ist sauer über das Wetter.
  • Maria is pissed off about the weather.

All we gotta look at now is the grammar. Sauer is a little weird right there because it often loses the e.

  • Ich mag saure Sachen.
  • I like sour things.
  • Dieser Weißwein ist saurer als Essig.
  • This white wine is more sour than vinegar.

Basic rule here is that you will still have a 2 syllable word even after you’ve attached the case endings. However, if you have the most sour thing ever the e will be back to participate:

  • Das ist der sauerste Wein aller Zeiten.
  • That is the most sour wine ever.

To wrap this up here is a nice saying.

  • Sauer macht lustig.
  • Sour makes one funny.

People say that with a smile every now and then when they eat an unexpectedly sour apple or they eat the lemon that came in their Kristallweizen. Kristallweizen is a filtered wheat beer, that is served with a slice of lemon and it is very refreshing in summer. So if you want to impress the waitress/waiter with your German say this:

  • Ich nehme ein Kristallweizen mit Zitrone, denn sauer macht lustig.
  • I’ll have a Kristallweizen with lemon cause sour makes one funny.

So this was our German Word of the Day sauer. It means sour and pissed of and just to mention it, it is also a common German family name.
If you want to you can take the tiny little quiz I have prepared. And of course, if you have any questions or suggestions or a word you want me to discuss, leave me a comment. I hope you liked it and see you next time.

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