Word of the Day – “schrumpfen”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day, this time with a look at one of the most German sounding words ever:

schrumpfen

A word like the smell of moss on an old musty oak tree deep in the forest where a boar forages for truffles.
Or the sound of an old, giant steam engine piston moving.
Or the name of a German metal band.

A word that seems like it’s a freeze dried version of a real word and you have to pour water on it to make it expand.
And a word that describes what happens to our self confidence when we make our first attempts at speaking to a native speaker.

Because schrumpfen is the opposite of wachsen and means to shrink.

  • Wie schnell schrumpfen meine Muskeln, wenn ich keinen Sport mache?
  • How fast do my muscles shrink when I don’t work out?
  • Nach dem letzten Date ist Thomas Selbstvertrauen sehr geschrumpft.
  • After the last date, Thomas’s self confidence has shrunk a lot.
  • Die Wirtschaft ist im dritten Quartal um zwei Prozent geschrumpft.
  • The economy contracted two percent in the third quarter.
  • Schrumpflation ist, wenn der Preis gleich bleibt, die Portion aber schrumpft.
  • Shrinkflation is when the price stays the same, but the portion is getting smaller.

Now, just like English, German has more than one option to express the opposite of growing.
Like kleiner werden and abnehmen or eingehen.
And I know your brain is yelling at you that you need to know the difference between all of them RIGHT NOW! But trust me… the opposite is true.
You do not need to know that now. I’ll give you a little overview at the end of the article, so tell your brain to chill.

Schrumpfen is definitely not all that common in daily life, but it’s a good choice for shrinking that you want to sound “severe” and colorful.  And there are a surprising number of compounds with Schrumpf-.
Most of them are technical terms for industrial parts or processes, or they’re niche words like Schrumpfkopf, which is a shrunken head (and a great name for a metal band, once again) or der Schrumpftrank.
Those of you who are into role playing probably intuitively know what that could be right away.
I mean… the D&D style role playing. Not the adult, fifty shades of gray style role playing. You’d probably want the opposite of a Schrumpftrank there. Unless you’re super well hung.

Anyway, so now you know schrumpfen, one of the German translations of  to shrink. Are the two related? Well, no, most probably not.
But schrumpfen does have a close relative in English. And at least if you’re into seafood you’ll have had a fair share of it.
Any idea what I mean?
I am talking about shrimp. And seeing how much shrimp shrink when I fry them, that’s a very fitting name. And they’re also called die Shrimps in German. Or die Garnelen. It’s the same thing pretty much. But not Scampi... those are a different species, actually, even though they look similar.
“Oh great, you’re telling us the difference between Scampi and Shrimp but not between the various word for shrinki…”
Quiet, brains!
We’ll get to that later.
First, there’s also a German relative I want to tell you about – the verb schrumpeln.
And schrumpeln is basically what happens to grapes when they become raisins.

So while schrumpfen is about a reduction in size, schrumpeln is about the pruney, shriveled surface.
And I don’t know about you, but for me, schrumpeln really “sounds the part”. Schrumpeln.
I mean… the English translation to shrivel is also not bad, but schrumpeln… I don’t know, for me it just perfectly sounds like what it stands for.

Anyway, so schrumpeln is to shrivel, to get pruney and its equally common brother verschrumpeln is essentially the same; just a little more focused on the result. Oh, and then there’s the adjective schrumpelig, which of course means pruney, shriveled.

  • Warum schrumpelt die Haut, wenn man zu lange im Wasser ist?
  • Why does the skin shrivel when we’re in the water for too long?
  • Der Apfel ist ein bisschen verschrumpelt, aber für Apfelsaft ist das kein Problem.
  • The apple is a little pruney, but for apple juice that is no problem.
  • Der Salat war braun, das Gemüse total schrumpelig.
  • The salad was brown, the vegetables were completely shriveled.

Oddly enough, there is no noun based on schrumpeln, so if you want to talk about the wrinkles and puckers, the word is either die Falte(n) or die Runzel(n).

  • Die Falten auf deiner Stirn sind tief genug, um Kartoffeln anzupflanzen.
  • The wrinkles on your forehead are deep enough to plant potatoes.
  • Hilft Einhornurin wirklich gegen Runzeln?
  • Does unicorn urine really help against wrinkles?

Neither of those really fits for, say, the shriveled pepper in the back of the fridge, so go for a phrasing with verb or adjective there.

And that’s pretty much for today.
This was our quick look at the meaning of schrumpfen and schrumpeln.
As usual, if you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

 

Oh… and I totally forgot the overview:

abnehmen: moon waning, losing weight, temperature going down

eingehen: shrinking for clothes

kleiner werden:  most generic word that works for lots of things that grow in size

sinken/fallen: prices getting smaller

 

It’s a really coarse overview, but I hope it helps. Just check my dictionary for more details :)

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david_l
david_l
1 day ago

I came across this sentence “Nach dem ersten Waschen kommt es zu einer gewissen Schrumpfung des Stoffes.”

What does the “kommt es zu” part mean? I’m not sure what I’d need to search for to get a dictionary result

david_l
david_l
1 day ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I see what you’re saying thank you. Is it really just a maybe that the shrinking will occur or does it sound more certain? “There may be” sounds kinda like “this is a potential side effect we’ve observed before, so don’t complain to us if this happens”

Starbuck
Starbuck
20 days ago

Re: the moon…

I wasn’t sure what you meant by decreasing.

Does abnehmen mean the moon going down (i.e. setting) or the change in visible shape of the moon caused by the earth’s shadow (i.e. waning)?

Starbuck
Starbuck
19 days ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ooook make sense with the losing weight concept as well. The moon and the person both get narrower and more angular when they abnehmen.

Thanks!

Vilius
Vilius
1 month ago

Just wanted to thank all the people that payed more than they had to and gave me this oppurtunity to study from these great resources!

cbodien@yahoo.com
cbodien@yahoo.com
1 month ago

Schade dass die von diesem in der Naehe Supermarkt verkaufende Obst, sind immer ganz verschrumpelt worden.

Schade dass die vondiesemindernaehesupermarktverkaufende Obst, sind ploetzlich verschrumpelt worden wenn ich in diesen Geschaeft ankomme.

cbodien@yahoo.com
cbodien@yahoo.com
1 month ago

Hmmm ich muss die zweiten Satz aendern ein bisschen

cbodien@yahoo.com
cbodien@yahoo.com
1 month ago

Versuche N. 2: Schade dass die indiesemindernaehesupermarkte Obst, werden immer ganz geschrumpelt wenn ich ankomme.

Besser oder?

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

Vielen Dank fuer das Korregieren. Versuche N 3: Wenn ich diesem Supermarkt besuche, der in der Naehe von meinem zu Hause ist, sind die Obst immer verschrumpelt.

Anonymous
Anonymous
30 days ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Aha! Danke sehr! Einfach ist immer besser!

Anonymous
Anonymous
30 days ago
Reply to  Emanuel

V. N.4: Wenn ich zu diesem Supermarkt gehe, . . ., ist das Obst immer verschrumpelt.

Viktoriaki
Viktoriaki
1 month ago

A quick shout out to the people who sponsor others’ memberships– vielen Dank für eure Unterstützung! :)

Last edited 1 month ago by Viktoriaki
Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

I am not quite sure, but I seem to have seen a certain discrepancy between the German sentence and its English rendition. Sorry to have mentioned this, if I am wrong.

  • Die Wirtschaft ist im dritten Quartal um zwei Prozent geschrumpft.
  • The economy contracted two percent in the last quarter.
Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

Das war Grossartig! Danke, Emanuel.
Eleanor

dominique fischer
dominique fischer
1 month ago

Good…. but SO talkative!
You don’t need to prove that you can write and be whimsy and be cool all the time.
Keep it simple, keep it clear, keep it humble … please!

heather
heather
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Personally, I love your writing style! Entertaining and engaging. I guess you can’t please everyone!

Jayne
Jayne
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I remember learning a long time ago, in an undergrad psychology course, about studies showing that people tend to retain information better when it is accompanied by jokes and funny stories. Your sense of humour is not always an exact match for my own, but you are justified in incorporating it into your articles on pedagogical grounds. I agree there is no need to force it when it does not come naturally, but there is nothing wrong, in principle, with a bit of silliness.

Natasha
Natasha
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I just wanted to say that I absolutely love the style of your articles, please DON’T “Keep it simple and keep it clear”!

If I wanted straight up grammar explanations then I would just read a dry grammar book… I think most of your readers enjoy the articles specifically because of the added whimsy. :)

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

It keeps saying I’ve reached my limit of two posts per week. It’s bad enough that I paid up for a subscription and through some weird problem with the log on on my phone I lost about 3 weeks. Maybe more. But I haven’t seen,/opened an email from this site in several weeks due to illness. So how did I over do my ^free” articles? Please unsubscribe me.

Starbuck
Starbuck
20 days ago
Reply to  Anonymous

If you follow the link from your email, your browser doesn’t automatically log you in (unless you clicked “remember me” when you logged in last time. Click the top right icon and log in and it should take you back to the article ;)

Hossain
Hossain
1 month ago

Vielen Dank Emanuel, das war prima.

Ebaa
Ebaa
1 month ago

Danke Emanuel, super wie immer. Mit lustigen und Kreativen Beispielen, so man kann begeistert lernen

10klearns
10klearns
1 month ago

Thanks- soooo very interesting and informative wie gewönlich!

Toma
Toma
1 month ago

Thank you for this post. You describe it so well and the article is so entertaining I will never forget the word now!

Elsa
Elsa
1 month ago

Hello,
Let’s schrumpfen the percentage of typos:
self-confidence (has a hyphen)
“there are a surprising number of compound” (there are a surprising number of compounds)

Do clothes schrumpfen or eingehen (or either)? Which is more idiomatic?

Bis bald!

Dan
Dan
1 month ago
Reply to  Elsa

Ahem…. there is a surprising number (no s) of compounds…. Or, you could say, “a lot of compounds”….

Lydia
Lydia
1 month ago

Schrumpeln and Schrumpfen put me in mind of the English adjective „frumpy“, meaning wrinkled, ill-fitting, the opposite of elegant or stylish.
Diese Worte machen mir Spaß!

Starbuck
Starbuck
20 days ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Frumpy is often used to describe women who dress older than their age or who don’t dress sexy. I imagine things like long skirts, loose blouses, cardigans, sensible shoes, etc.

It’s probably sexist, because men aren’t being criticised in the same way so gender clearly plays a role.

david_l
david_l
1 day ago
Reply to  Starbuck

Frumpy isn’t specific to women at all, it just means unfashionable. It just happens to be that women generally concern themselves more with fashion

david_l
david_l
1 day ago
Reply to  Emanuel

It actually did originally mean grumpy according to the dictionary

pmccann
pmccann
1 month ago

“I’ll give you a little overview at the end of the article, so tell your brain to chill.”

(Es wird ein bisschen kühl hier drinnen…)

Bohdan
Bohdan
1 month ago

Thanks to team spirit for my membership, won’t give you up, A1 soon.=)

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Und was uber GMbH