Word of the Day – “regen”

regen-aufregen-abregen-meanHello everyone,

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



Now you’re like “Hey, we know that! That means rain.” but what you mean is the noun der Regen. We will talk about the verb regen.
“But doesn’t that just mean to rain?”
No, that would be regnen with an extra “n”.

Extra N ® – extra ConfusioN since 1856 

Regen the verb doesn’t have much to do with water falling from the sky. The origin is not entirely known but it might be related to rock as in Rock’n Roll. That would make sense, because regen is about movement. A movement slowly starting, to be precise. Think of an elephant who’s just waking up from its afternoon nap and starts moving and stretching its limbs and body. This would be regen. Actually, it would be sich regen because regen comes with a pointless self reference.

Pointless Self Reference ® – extra Arse pain since 1878

here it is in practice.

Note that regen is NOT about travelling in any way. It’s about movements on the spot, if you will.

And in fact, the verb itself is pretty much only used in an abstract sense of some sort of desire or opposition starting to grow or show or whatever.

And if you’re now like “Hmm… that doesn’t seem like it’s all that useful” then let me tell you this:
You’re correct.
Regen – the verb – is about as useful if you want to speak German, as Regen – the noun – is if  you want to watch Game of Thrones. It’s nice to have it but it doesn’t really make a difference.
But like all German verbs regen has prefix versions – and those are extra useful.

Prefix Versions ® – extra useful since 1802

The prefix versions of regen

Regen doesn’t have many prefix versions. Only 19.
Nah, kidding. Only four. But boy, are they useful. We’ve learned that regen is about the idea of getting into motion but we’ve seen that it’s mostly used in an abstract sense. The prefix verbs are abstract, too. Their focus is not motion but the more general idea of agitation; some sort of rise in energy level. That’s the core of three of the prefix versions… erregen, anregen and aufregen. And they all have their own take on it.

Erregen has an interesting double meaning.

That’s right. Erregen can have a neutral or slightly negative sense of agitation or excitement but it’s also THE word for sexually arouse. So context plays a big role here. Especially for the ge-form erregt which can mean excited, agitated as well as horny.

  • Thomas wedelt erregt mit dem Schw… Actually, let’s stop that right here.

I think you got the idea. Just think of erregen as to arouse. It’s not automatically sexual but whenever it feels like it does have the adult meaning… erregen probably does too in that context.
All right.
The next one is anregen. The best translation for that is to stimulate, but unlike erregen, anregen is never nervous and it doesn’t sound sexual at all. It’s a positive, G-rated stimulation. Like … a good discussion with a friend can be anregend. Or a bubble bath with herb scents.

There’s also the pretty common noun die Anregung  which means something like idea, inspiration, suggestion. Something that gets someone else’s brain or imagination going… strictly non sexual, that is.

The last one of the three, (sich) aufregen. The related words, namely the noun die Aufregung and the ge-form aufgeregt are all about general excitement or nervousness.

Now, it is important to note that these aufregen-words DO NOT have the same vibe as excited or exciting.

This doesn’t mean that she is looking forward to it. It means that she is nervous.

  • Before a presentation, Maria is always super nervous.

Aufgeregt and Aufregung are MUCH more nervous and much less euphoric than excited.
And that brings us to the verb aufregen itself, which is actually not positive at all.  Aufregen (or sich aufregen) is super uber common and means to get worked up about something, but also to bitch or to rant.

And aufregen brings us right the last regen-verb: abregen. Well… sich abregen. God, these self references. So annoying. Anyway,  sich abregen is the perfect word if someone is ranting in front of you and you want to tell them to calm down.

And that’s it for today. This was our look at the meaning of  regen. The verb itself is about motion or agitation but the real takeaway are the prefix versions. Erregen, anregen, aufregen and abregen… they’re all super useful and you’ll definitely hear all of them in people’s daily talk.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions or if you want to try out some examples just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

** vocab **

sich regen – move/start making movements

die Regung – the motion (of a body)
regungslos – motionless
rege – vivid (rare)

erregen – arouse, excite, make horny
die Erregung – the sexual arousal
erregt – agitated, horny

anregen – stimulate (positive, non-sexual), also: to suggest (rare)
anregend – stimulating
die Anregung – idea, suggestion

(sich) aufregen  – to get worked up about something, to be angry, to rant and rave
aufgeregt – excited, nervous (NOT the same vibe as the super positive “excited”)
die Aufregung – the agitation, the commotion

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Johnathon Finlay
Johnathon Finlay

This was amazing. Your way of explaining stuff is just brilliant. I think I have found exactly the blog I was looking for! Vielen Dank!

Johnathon Finlay
Johnathon Finlay

PS. Do please delete this post, it’s just to let you know there was a mistranslation:
Thomas versucht verzweifelt Marias Aufmerksamkeit zu erregen.
THE CAT desperately tries to get/stir up/ lit.: stimulate Maria’s attention.


“Gestern war hatte ich ein BlindDate.” I don’t understand why war is in this sentence?


I’d say the best translation for “sich regen” is probably “stir,” at least in the literal sense. If you want to sound sort of old-timey and more German, you could even say “bestir oneself” (that also sounds more intentional, though, with some kind of goal).


I’d probably use the verb “to budge” on many occasions to translate “(sich) regen”. It is often used in conjunction with describing the transition between two snapshots in time and space, one in which the object or subject in question was motionless and the other one, where it is in motion, be it physically, emotionally or any other means of motion.


Hi, Emanuel! In the Toronto example (In einer Woche fahre ich nach Toronto. Ich bin schon ganz aufgeregt.) Is this person “much more nervous and much less euphoric” than excited? If someone said they were excited, I’d assume they were just really looking forward to it.

Aleksa Zivanovic

Your blog came up in past google searches when i wanted to find out something in German and your texts always helped. From this day I am starting to read your blog on a daily basis, to keep me fresh with my German. Thank you for your effort, you are very good in passing knowledge and simplifying otherwise hard German language. Keep the great work it is appreciated and I hope it pays of in a way that you consider fulfilling.


Hi, in the song “Alle Vögel Sind Schon Da”, there are the lines, “Wie sie alle lustig sind – Flink und froh sich regen’. I always assumed that “regen” here just meant ‘to move about’, but does it always mean ‘to stir’, or ‘to start moving after having been still for a while’, even here?


https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/regen#German sense 3 says “to be active doing something”. I don’t know if that’s correct, but it seems to fit. “Nimble and glad, (they) dart about”?


I liked this word of the day. Aufregen and abregen are pretty useful for my friend group.


Thank you so much. Your posts are really helpful :)


One of your best posts since long ago!! (I don’t mean that the others are bad, they are really helpful and well written, but here you made an awesome job, veeeeery funny and easy to understand! :) ) Thanks a lot!!


Hello another big fan of your blog here & commeting for the first time! :D

You wrote that ‘aufgeregt’ is more like nervous. But doesn’t ‘aufregend’ actually mean exciting?

i.e. A: Ich fange bald mit meinem neuen Job an!
B:Oh, das ist ja aufregend! (as in, oh that’s exciting!, without any negative connotation)

If aufregend does include a bit nervousness, what word can we use to say ‘exciting’ only in positive sense?

i.e. A: I am getting married!
B: OMGOMGOMG that is SOOO EXCITING! (how would you say this kind of ‘exciting’ in German?)