Advent Calendar 21 – “This one is Toast”

Halli hallo,

day 21 of our Advent Calendar, final stretch. Christmas is like right around the corner. And so the PCBs are also right around the corner. PCBs? Post Christmas Beers. Yeah, as fun as X-Man is, there are a few flaws wit… oh… as fun as X-mas is, there are a few flaws and it’s nice to have a few beers with friends at the bar.
And that’s why today we’ll talk a bit about the German word for cheers!
And that is…



In the South of Germany, you can also hear



and then, there’s also the variation



Though this might be a bit tricky after a few beers…


Anyway, Prost is the number 1 word and I’m sure most if not all of you have heard about it.
“Yes! Yes, Emanuel. We did hear about it.”
“Yeah dude, this is nothing new!”
“Advent Calendar?! More like Ca-lame-der.”
Well, yeah… it’s nothing new that Prost is German for Cheers! (<—- hey, hey Google, check this out!) . But I bet you a beer you ain’t got no idea where it comes from.

Just going by sound, it must be German. I mean…..  Prrrooooost…. it doesn’t get much Germaner than that, right? But no. Prost actually comes from fancy ass Latin. The Southern version Prosit actually kind of hints at it.
The origin is the Latin verb prodesse, which meant something like to be beneficial, useful.   For the nerds among you… it’s a combination of the prefix pro with it’s sense of forward and the verb esse, which meant to be. So it kind of is at its core about promoting life. Just like beer. 
Seriously though, Prosit! literally meant something like “May it be useful!” and the Germanic tribes imported it from the Romans because they had hitherto been completely sober and didn’t even have the concept of a toast.
Okay, of course that’s nonsense. The common Germanic word was Skoll, but the Germans eventually chose Prost. Maybe just because they were closer to Italy than, say, Sweden.

Anyways, prost is actually a bit more narrow than cheers because it does NOT work in sense of thank you. That would be really confusing.
And what else is there to say… uh… oh yeah, there’s the verb zuprosten (+ Dative) with it, that basically describes the act of saying or signaling cheers to someone.

And there’s the expression Na Prost Mahlzeit which you’d use if you’re dumbfounded by something, in a negative way.

And last but not least, Prost is a really good word to try out how top-down perception works. Next time you toast with your German friends, instead of saying Prost! you just say Brust (breast)… get it, get it.. top down perception ;).
Seriously though… no one will notice.

They will all hear Prost! because they want to hear it. And you can have a little giggle. Well… if you’re a 14 year old boy like me, that is.
Anyway… I hope you had a few giggles today. Let me know your questions and thoughts in the comments and I’ll see you tomorrow…


for members :)

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I never knew Prosit was the same as Prost. All the times I’ve heard that song “Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit” and it didn’t occur to me. Seems obvious now! For zuprosten I think simply “to raise ones glass to (someone)” or “to toast (someone) with a glass/drink”.


“Prosit” is the Swedish version of “Gesundheit”, or ‘”Bless you” when someone sneezes. “Prost” in Swedish is a priest of higher standing – but honestly, who cares? This is GERMAN-is-Easy, not Swedish-is-Easy. To toast Maria you’d say, “I (would like to) raise a glass to Maria”, or “A toast to Maria”. Same as aoind already wrote. In English you don’t need the “in a toast fashion” because there are no other circumstances under which you’d raise a glass to someone. Unless you are THROWING it at them, in which case, no words are necessary…


Vielen Dank. I had wondered where Prost!/Prosit! came from, but never got around to tracking it down. Toast expressions in many languages are in the “Good health!” vein, which makes overlap with sneeze responses understandable. (Thank you, Amerikanerin, for that insight.) In Spanish “¡salud!” is apparently used for both. There are other languages, too, that have one expression for both situations or two very similar. ….Now I’m trying to suppress images of beer being sneezed.


is there a difference between `prost` and `zum wohl`?


I have to say, in my experience, I’ve tended to hear “zum Wohl(e)” more often than “prost” (regardless of beverage).


It’s interesting that the Germanic word for “cheers” was “Skoll”. In Australia, “skol” has come to mean “finish your drink in one go as quickly as you can” (or “chug!”, as I think Americans would say). A common argument is whether the word is spelled “skol” or “scull” (the latter being the way Australians actually pronounce it because I think the intended vowel sound in “skol” just confuses everyone). There is a common tradition of politicians or other prominent people “skoling/sculling” their beers at public events to prove how in touch they are with the ways of the ordinary people.

Is there a word for this concept in German?


That would be “auf Ex”.
“I could drink the whole bottle in one go.” – “No way!” = “Ich könnte die ganze Flasche auf Ex trinken.” – “Niemals.”
“Scul it.” (?) = “Auf Ex und hop.”

That is the most common expression for something like that (in my region). There are several other ways to say it. For example there is a movie with Matthias Schweighöfer, if that tells you something, which has the title “Rubbeldiekatz”. Which would also be the way they express this action. No idea whether that was just made up for the movie or if that is really a phrase in the Ruhr area.


I know, I know, this is German-is-Easy, but… In Sweden where I live, “Skål” is the word for “Cheers”, “Prosit”, “Na zdorovlya”, “Salute”, “L’Chaiyim” – however, there is a nuance in “Skål”: if you are drinking wine, or beer, or just want to be polite, you sorta mumble, “Skål”, look at everyone with a glas, take a sip and then look at everyone again and put down your glass. IF AND WHEN there is serious drinking to be done, “SKÅL” is said loudly and clearly and the glances before drinking are more meaningful, as if to DARE you to not drink up – at a “Skål” like this, you empty the shot glass, and that’s it. If you don’t, comments will be made. Typical at Christmas, Easter and Midsommar (when Swedes imbibe copious amounts of schnapps). Although methinks Swedish schnapps and German Schnapps are not really the same thing.


“is there a difference between `prost` and `zum wohl`?” – When I lived in Berlin (and also tended bar there), I’d hear “Prost” in bars, kneipen, and other places where drinking beer or spirits was common. “Zum Wohl” was something I’d hear among wine drinkers in cafes and at the dinner table. So I associate “Prost” with beer, and “Zum Wohl” with wine.


“Prosit” sounds exactly like the russian word for “asks”. Well, to prost is actually kind of to ask.. to ask somebody to drink a glass of beer with you… Right? Right?