Word of the Day – “der Raum”

raumHello everyone,

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

der Raum


Der Raum is of course the German brother of English room and it is all about space … in all kinds of uses.

Naturally, there are also many common compound nouns with it.

Zeitraum... hmmm …  maybe that’s where Mozart got his inspiration for his space-time.
But anyway, there is one area where Raum and room don’t really match up… and that’s our home,or more generally places where we live. Sure, a 3-room flat is sometimes called Dreiraumwohnung but the rooms themselves are not called Räume, they are called Zimmer…. like Hans Zimmer, the film composer. But you have to say “Tsimmer
Das Zimmer is related  timber and also to words like dome,  domicile or Russian dom (house). They all come from a root that meant to build. And because for a long time houses were build with wood, it’s not totally crazy to call it Zimmer. Here are the most important ones…

  • Badezimmer – bath room
  • Wohnzimmer – living room
  • Schlafzimmer – bedroom
  • Kinderzimmer – (dictionary said nursery, but I have doubts… is there a word for just the room in a flat?)
  • Einzelzimmersingle room
  • Doppelzimmer – double room/twin

All right.
Now, all this is certainly nice to know but what really makes Raum special and a Word of the Day is the verb räumen –  yet another one of those verbs that are missing in textbooks but that people use every day… at least in combination with prefixes. So let’s take a look.


The core idea of räumen is not very surprising… and if you think I’m going to pull a cheap joke by giving a bogus, then let me tell you this:  you err. The core of aufräumen is “to freshen up”.  Haha…. gotcha.. it is to make room”.
Now, if we want to make room we have to remove whatever is taking up the space. And that is what räumen is all about… removing something. And because it is also about space, we usually räumen larger objects. You wouldn’t use räumen in context with a few bread crumbs that you wipe of the table.
Now you’re like “Give us examples. What’s the translation? “… well, the best translation is probably to clear… because it has the same weird double focus as  räumen…. double focus isn’t really a thing, don’t worry. I just needed a word. So… the basic structure is this:

Subject, verb, direct object. Plain and simple. But once we look at what etwas can be, we get two quite different meanings. Of course etwas can be the thing that gets removed.

But also the location that gets emptied can be the direct object, too. And that is the far more common use.

That means that he removes all his stuff and leaves himself. Does that lead to confusion? Well… not really. Often there is some information in the sentence that gives it away

And even without any hint… context mostly makes it clear.
Now, the verb räumen itself isn’t that useful in daily life but this weird … I guess we could call it double focus is present in most of the prefix versions.
Let’s take for instance abräumen.  The ab- adds the idea of taking away from the top of something.

In the first example, we are told the location and not what exactly is being removed, in the second example it is the other way around. Context clears it up… haha… clears it up. Get it? Clear like räumen… meh never mind.
Very similar to abräumen are ausräumen and einräumen. Aus is about taking stuff out of something and ein.. well, you get the idea :)

These last few examples had a lot to do with  cleaning. And the next one is even a translation for that.
Aufräumen is kind of a general term for bringing stuff in order and every kid in Germany hears it on a daily basis.

Putzen, waschen, reinigen, sauber machen... all those are to clean more or less about removing dirt and they imply water or detergent or something. Aufräumen is to clean too, but it is more about bringing things in order.. picking up all clothes from the floor and folding them, bringing all the cups and plates to the kitchen, sorting the DVD collection… that sort of thing. It can include the use of water and wiping… for instance if we have to aufräumen our kitchen after a party, but that’s not the main component.
And aufräumen isn’t only for rooms.

Does aufräumen have the double focus like the others? Well… most use the location as the direct object… room, desk, hard-drive. But there is stuff like

and I think this is not about having tidy mess after, so we can, without a doubt, say that it is also possible to aufräumen the cause of the aufräumen…. uhm… maybe I should aufräumen that last sentence. But anyway… aufräumen can also be used without any object.The location and the target is then usually implied by context.

All right.
Now there are a still a few other verbs left. Umräumen uses the “change”-meaning of “um” and it basically means to rearrange the furniture in one’s home… quite a handy word actually.

Then, there is wegräumen and this one actually cannot refer to the location, that get’s “spaced up”. Only to the thing you remove.

Last but not lea… well… actually last AND least we have verräumen, which is a technical term for storing away stock. Yeah… räum that on your passive pile.
So. let me think, is that it?… I don’t want to forget anything… uhm… …oh  yeah… there are a few abstract meanings in more or less fixed phrasings …

and what else… uhm… related words, yeah of course there are a few related words

Aaaand… I think that’s it. Awesome. So this was our German Word of the Day der Raum… Raum means rooms, (unless  it is one room we live in) and it is the basis of the verb räumen. Räumen has at its core the idea of “making room by removing something”  it can take the thing you remove as well as the location you remove it from as a direct object and, together with various prefixes, this idea is often used in sense of  some sort cleaning… abräumen, aufräumen, wegräumen… all those are part of daily life and I’m sure you’ll come across them sooner or later.
If you have any questions about today’s words or if you want to try out some examples of your own, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it, and see you next time.


for members :)

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Hi, I’ve just discovered your web site yesterday and am finding it very helpful in explaining the quirky aspects of the German language which my German wife is struggling to explain clearly. She normally declares I just have to learn it, AH!!!!

Anyway, while reading through the latest word of the day post I found that some of your translations to be not quite correct. For example let’s take “Oh Gott. Morgen kommt meine Schwiegermutter. Ich muss unbedingt aufräumen.”. You gave the translation “Oh god, my mother in law is going to come tomorrow. I so have to clean.”. In my humble opinion a more accurate translation would be “Oh God, my mother-in-law is coming tomorrow. I really must tidy up”. I feel your translation is too literal.

I hope this is helpful


Noch ein tolles Artickel .
– Die Polizei hat den Platz nach dem Unfall AUSgeräumt .
– Ich habe meine Bücher( oder meinen Keller) in den Regal AUFgeräumt .
– Ich räume meiner Fehler EIN was du Recht hast .
– Ich habe die Mülltonne aus der Strasse WEGgeräumt .
– Es gibt immer einen Raum für das Problem Krieg und Frieden in unseren Welt .
– Ich würde meinen Autokoffer UMräumen .
Bis bald .Ahmad


Thanks for the post – I think I’ve been reading the admit/concede einräumen in newspapers without really understanding it!

For your poker example, in English you can also actually say “you cleaned up” at poker (or the races or an awards ceremony or I guess anything where your taking a prize/winnings home).


A child’s room can indeed be called a nursery, but in using that word you would be signalling your middle-class origins.
Thanks as ever for a useful and clear explanation!


Wir werden dieses Zimmer ein “play room” nennen.


Er, ‘dies’ Zimmer oder ‘dieses’ Zimmer?

cameron harris
cameron harris

Fantastisch! Wir sagen auch ‘to clean up in the casino’ für abräumen (wie ein großer Gewinn) in einem Casino. Ich habe auch zufällig eine neue Bedeutung von ‘wirken’ durch deinen Artikel entdeckt: es kann auch wie ‘scheinen’ sein , ja?
Danke sehr,


Könnte man sagen, wenn er jemandem einen Platz im Bus oder Zug abgeben, “ich mache Raum”? Oder vielleicht “Ich räume diesen Platz”?

Ich habe noch eine Frage, aber die geht um eine Erfahrung, die ich in Frankfurt hatte. Ich war in einem Bus, und ich hatte mich auf einen Platz gesetzt. Dann kommt eine Frau ein, und, um ihr ein bisschen Raum zu machen (?), bewege ich mich. Sie sagt mir, “geht geht” oder etwas so… Ich hatte keine Ahnung, was sie damit gemeint hatte… Ist das einen gemeinsamen Ausdruck?


Ich weiß, dass ich wahrscheinlich ein paar Fehler mit den Zeitformen gemacht habe… Ich bin nie ganz sicher, wann ich aufhören soll, in der Vergangenheit zu sprechen… Du hast mir gestern das ein bisschen erklärt, aber es verwirrt mich noch.


Ich kann Abräumen und einfach Räumen nicht unterschieden… ich räume den Tisch, Ich räume den Tisch ab?

Klingt das erste so, als ob ich den Tisch raus aus dem Haus nehme?

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader

Du hast doch etwas vergessen, und zwar Räumlichkeiten ;)


Hallo Emmanuel, (Sorry, if I asked this question under your word-of-the-day “liegen,” but I’m not sure if it was submitted successfully.)

Totally off the subject here, but I’ve seen this used in several places due to the “Hitzewelle” in Deutschland…..

Es herrscht eine Hitzewelle in Deutschland. Or…Es herrscht eine Affenhitze.

Why do you use “herrschen” here for the verb?

Do you have to use it, or could you use another verb? Ex: Wir haben eine Hitzewelle in Deutschland. Will this work as well?

VIelen Dank im Voraus!


Danke vielmal fuer jeden Artikle. ich lerne jedesmal etwas neues.


“Der Politiker sieht keinen Spielraum für Steuersenkungen.”

Does this literally mean, “The politician sees no ‘play room’ for tax cuts?” That makes sense to me, as a Native English speaker. People occasionally use the term “play room” when talking about budgets. Like, “If we allow our employees 3 weeks to complete the project, it will give them a little ‘play room’ if something unexpected happens.” Also, wiggle room. Both are cute.

Earnest Learner
Earnest Learner

The best thing I like about your daily german is: when you talk about something, a word, a grammar concept, anything, you drill down to all possible usage as well as related vocabulary. The occasional humour and anecdotes add spice and keeps the reader glued until the end of the post. Besides this, the clarity in design and font used makes the page read friendly. Thanks a lot for taking efforts.


Sie sind großartige Deutschlehrerin .. danke von Herz


Could we have explained the following sentence or similar: “ich lasse mir von einem Stein nicht meinen Ruhm stehlen”?
1) ich lasse mir vs ich lasse mich
2) what the structure “stehlen etw von etw” translates into?


What about corners? In Spanish there is a distinction between la esquina and el rincon specifying an ‘outside’ corner vs an ‘inside’ corner. Does this distinction exist between die Ecke und der Winkel?