Word of the Day – “der Schnupfen”

meaning of schnupfenHello everyone,

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

der Schnupfen 

Der Schnupfen… I don’t know where it came from or when it will leave but I have one with me right now and all he does is make me blow my nose every minute and whine to my girlfriend just as much, because that’s what REAL men do.
So you might have already an idea what a Schnupfen is but the word is actually not that easy to translate. Technically, there is a literal translation for Schnupfen: coryza … which makes me think of Spanish salami.  I have never heard or seen this word anywhere before so I doubt that it is really common. All the other translations suggested by the dictionary do not really fit because they are too broad or too precise.
Schnupfen describes all the symptoms you have in your nose when you have a cold so it may mean running nose as well as stuffed nose or a burning nose.  It is sort of the cough of the nose if you will. The German word for cough is Husten (hoostun) and Husten and Schnupfen together are the main symptoms of a common cold… in German die Erkältung. So if you say:

  • Ich habe Schnupfen.

you are saying that your nose is showing cold like symptoms of any kind but you do not have a cough and maybe you wouldn’t even call it a cold. You can’t really call in sick just because of a Schnupfen.

Anyway… I hope you get the idea of Schnupfen. It is a really common word in German. For example if someone sneezes you could ask:

  • Hast du Schnupfen?

Note that Schnupfen is often used  without the article. The same goes for Husten.

  • Ich habe schlimmen Husten.
  • I have a bad cough.

However, if you have a cold, you need the article.

  • Ich habe eine Erkältung.

Now Schnupfen (and Husten) is usually associated with winter but some people get it in spring… every spring.
The German word for what those people are suffering from is:

der Heuschnupfen 

Das Heu (pron.: hoy) is the German word for hay, so Heuschnupfen are hay caused nose problems… be it stuffed or running. So yep… Heuschnupfen is the German word for hay fever or allergies.
So if someone sneezes in spring you could ask:

  • Hast du Schnupfen oder Heuschnupfen?
  • Do you have cold related nose problems or hay fever?

Now, to wrap this up we could either look at the grammar of Schnupfen or… oh come on… you don’t even know what the other one is… could be soil science… god, that was the most boringestest thing ever in school … soooooil science… anyway, so let’s look at some vocabulary you need when you have a Schnupfen. First of there is the action of blowing your nose.

  • Ich schnaube mir die Nase.
  • I blow my nose.

Schnauben (pron. : sh-now-bun) actually means to snort so literally we say “I snort myself the nose.”.
The next word is the thing you need if you want to blow your nose… a tissue.
The basic word for this is Taschentuch (tushan toog). Die Tasche is a pocket or a purse and das Tuch is cloth or scarf so it is a pocket cloth and the only 2 purposes of Taschentuch are either Nase Schnauben or wave someone good bye.
Now a Taschentuch can be made from either real fabric or paper / cellulose. The German word for cellulose is Zellstoff so there is a word Zellstofftaschentuch but that is pretty long and not used very often… however I think it occurs on grocery lists. Then there is a brand of paper tissues called Tempo and their marketing was so successful that people actually ask for a Tempotaschentuch or short a Tempo if they need a tissue.

  • Hast du ein Tempo?
  • Do you have a Kleenex?

This can be really confusing if you don’t know it as Tempo normally means speed or momentum. But everyone will understand the question. Me personally I would ask for a Taschentuch but Zellstoff, Zellstofftaschentuch, Tempo and Tempotaschentuch are also used and they all mean the same thing.

Now if your nose is running and you have no tissue what you will end doing something which is considered bad manner. Especially moms hate it. At least mine did so to keep me from doing it she told me that I would pull all snot into my brain eventually… that was kind effective I have to say :). So the English word is to snuffle and in German we say:

  • Thomas zieht (sich) die  Nase hoch.
  • Thomas pulls up his nose. (lit.)
  • Thomas snuffles.

The literal translation really doesn’t make much sense but this is how it is said in German.

So all that is missing now is the word for the snot itself and in German you have the choice between

  • der Schnodder (shnodduh)


  • der Rotz (Rots)
  • Die Rotze (Rotsa)

and of course I have an example sentence for this:

  • Meine Rotze ist gelblich-grün und sehr dickflüsig.
  • My snot is yellowish green and very thick.

I am sure you all wanted to know ;).

So this was our Word of the Day – der Schnupfen. It means cold related symptoms in your nose and there is not really a direct translation except for coryza…. together with it’s brother Husten it is the common cold.
If you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
Hope you liked it and see you next time.