Word of the Day – “rühren”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time, with a quick summer look at the meaning of

rühren

The origin is the exceedingly ancient Indo-European root *k̑erə- . The core idea of this root was “mixing together” with one of the main contexts being the mixing of ingredients of food. Mammoth stew with wild forest mushrooms for instance… hmmmmm. That was a good dish, I can tell you that.
A lot has changed since then. Mammoths emigrated to space, we put a man on a moon and we talk to our computer. But one of the things that hasn’t changed is, we still eat. And rühren is still what we do, if we want to mix it.

I think, you guessed it by now… rühren is the act of moving a spoon in circles through multicomponent food with the goal of mixing it.
Or in one word to stir.

  • “Mit Eis?”
    “Ich habe Bier bestellt.”
    “Oh sorry… geschüttelt oder gerührt?”
  • “With ice?”
    “I ordered beer.”
    “Oh sorry… shaken or stirred?”
  • Die Suppe unter ständigem Rühren langsam erhitzen.
  • Slowly heat up the soup while constantly stirring.
  • “Ich will Rührei.”
    “Und ich will, dass du Zähne putzt. Es ist Mitternacht.”
  • “I want scrambled egg.”
    “And I want you to brush your teeth. It’s midnight.”

And since German likes to be really precise, it is no surprise that there’s a whole bunch of prefix versions of rühren, that all specify the stirring in ways that an English speaker would never want to know.

  • Langsam rührt Maria ihren Kaffee um.
  • Slowly, Maria stirs her coffee. (one up to a dozen full circles)
  • Vor dem Servieren, die Suppe noch mal ordentlich durchrühren.
  • Stir the soup again thoroughly before serving.
  • Als erstes verrühren wir die Sahne, den Jogurt und das Wasser.
  • First, we stir together the cream, the yogurt and the water (until it is mixed completely).

And if you think those are not that bad, well… I challenge you to look up unterheben and unterziehen (in the context of cooking) and then tell me what the difference is and how they are different to einrühren.
Seriously, you can find a LOT of verbs in a German cookbook.

Now, of course we wouldn’t be talking about rühren if it was just about cooking.
But there’s more to it, as this common idiom shows…

  • Maria rührt keinen Finger in der Küche.

This is not about her stirring with fingers or something. It’s about her being a lazy slouch because it means that she is not moving a finger….

  • Maria doesn’t lift a finger in the kitchen.

And it’s not only this idiom, where we see this sense of moving.
It’s actually the core of the phrase sich rühren, which means to move oneselfin the sense of being still and then making a movement.

  • “Äh…. Thomas liegt vor dem Kühlschrank und rührt sich nicht.”
    “Das ist normal, mach dir keine Sorgen.”
  • “Uhm… Thomas is lying in front of the fridge and doesn’t move.”
    “That is normal, don’t worry.”
  • Niemand hat sich gerührt, als der Chef nach Freiwilligen gefragt hat.
  • No one moved when the boss asked for volunteers.

And just like to move we can also find rühren used in the more figurative sense of stirring up emotions, not the verb directly, but related words.

  • Das war eine rührende Rede.
  • That was a moving speech.
  • Ich bin gerührt.
  • I’m moved/touched.

And the second example introduces the third really important idea… the idea of touching. And that’s the core of the verbs anrühren and berühren, which both mean to touch.
Anrühren 
only talks about physical touch by a person and it often implies some kind of usage or “harm”.

  • “Wenn du so guckst, trau ich mich nicht, dein Bier anzurühren.”
    “Das ist die Idee dahinter.”
  • “If you look at me like that I don’t dare to touch your beer.”
    “That’s the idea behind it.”
  • “Meine Katze hat seit drei Tagen ihr essen nicht angerührt.”
    “Das ist kein Essen, Mensch!”
    “Was… wer… oh mein Gott.”
  • “My cat hasn’t touched her food in three days.”
    “That is not food, human.”
    “What… who… oh my god.”

Berühren is definitely the more useful one, and it works in both senses – emotional and physical.

  • Der Song hat mich tief berührt.
  • The song touched/moved me deeply.
  • Achtung, bitte nicht berühren.
  • Attention, please don’t touch.
  • Von der Berührung kriege ich Gänsehaut.
  • I get goose bumps from the touch.
  • Tausend mal berührt, tausend mal ist nichts passiert…
  • Touched a thousand times, a thousand times nothing happened…

The last example is actually lyrics of a German song about Harvey Weinstein and the MeToo movement… or was it friends becoming lovers after years?! Not sure, actually.
Anyway, some of you might be wondering if there is a difference between berühren and anfassen, which also means to touch. And yes, there is.
Berühren generally is gentle. It’s the first moment of contact if you will. Grabbing someone’s butt for example would be too strong for berühren. Anfassen can be gentle, too, but it doesn’t have the same gentle tone of berühren.

  • Mein Bier ist voll warm…. fass mal an!
  • My beer is super warm… touch it!
  • Fass mich nicht an!
  • Don’t touch me!

Berühren would sound a little bit too sensual in these examples.
But there’s a second difference. Even though it has this sensual tone when people do it, berühren is also to touch in the purely spatial sense, and it can between things. Like… the sour cream and the open can of beans in the fridge can berühren each other, in anticipation of the tacos to come.
Anfassen on the other hand can pretty much ONLY be done by humans. So if the sour cream in the fridge were to anfassen the can of beans, that would raise some serious questions about how old this sour cream is, whether it is sentient and most importantly how it got arms.

And I think with the image of sour cream with arms, we’ll end this article :).
This was our look at rühren and how it connects a stirring a stew with emotions.
As usual, I recommend you take the little quiz we have prepared to check what you remember.
And of course, if you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

** vocab **

rühren = to stir
gerührt = stirred
das Rührei = scrambled egg
umrühren = to stir in cirle
durchrühren = to stir thoroughly
verrühren = to stir together (until it is mixed completely)
keinen Finger rühren = not lift a finger, implies that someone is lazy
sich rühren = to move oneself (in the sense of being still and then making a movement)
rührend = moving
gerührt sein = to be moved/touched
anrühren = to touch physically (often implies some kind of usage or “harm”)
berühren = to touch emotionally and physically (has a gentle tone)
die Berührung = a touch
anfassen = to touch (only for humans, doesn`t have the gentle tone)

 

Oh by the way… here’s a link to an old German Schlager with berühren :)

 

5 6 votes
Article Rating

Newsletter for free?!

Sign up to my epic newsletter and get notified whenever I post something new :)
(roughly once per week)

No Spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Your Thoughts and Questions

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
64 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ops
Ops
1 year ago

einrühren vs verrühren – with “ein” it implies that you are adding one ingredient at a time (let’s call it X) and that that the ingredient X that you are adding, there is less X than the ingredient already in the Schlagschüssel.
Verrühren on the other hand is a little bit more messy. It implies few/bunch of substances. They are just throwing a party on their own and everything is gonna get convoluted/kinky.

Einrühren vs unterheben – You can also use einheben, but 8/10 you will find unterheben on cooking recipes. They both indicate the same action. To get ingredients mixed up, but unterheben is that fine very distinct gentleman. If you tangle with unterheben, they will expect you to be delicate.
Very clear example – to make a fluffy cake batter using egg whites, you for sure need to unterheben. Otherwise your Teig will lose all the air that you just got eingerührted.

Peter Rettig
Peter Rettig
2 years ago

Hmm, ein lustiger Post, wie wäre es noch mit “aufrühren” und “Aufrührer”…

Cyndey B
Cyndey B
2 years ago

Very nice as always ! Enjoyed the lesson and the quiz !

Andrew S Koebrick
Andrew S Koebrick
2 years ago

Any relation to the word ruhig / quiet?

Alan
Alan
2 years ago

Emanuel fuhr das Auto, als es das Einhorn berührte. Großer Fehler!

Renuka de Lima
Renuka de Lima
2 years ago

Hallo there. This comment isn’t really for this discussion. In your introduction you mention “aufregend” (exciting) and aufgeregt (nervous). I can see a connection in that one’s emotions have been stirred, but the first is positive and the second negative. How are they related? Would you know of the German equivalent to the English “upset”. eg: I was so upset with the awful news that I forgot to post the letter.

Many thanks for your work. Oh yeah, and a happy 18th !!!!!!

Renuka

Matt
Matt
1 year ago
Reply to  Renuka de Lima

Hi. are you from Brazil?

1 year later, but it is better late than never.

aufregen is actually a mixture of 2 emotions, so you cant actually translate into just one word.

the verb tends to be always very negative – sich aufregen = du regst mich auf => you cause me stress and irritation (mental and emotional).

the adj part tends to be not negative – it is the combination of butterflies in the stomach with a little bit of enthusiasm. Something you would get before getting on stage for school performance or before a job interview.

aufgeregt/aufregend = friozinho na barriga com um pouco de empolgação. um usado para descrever o estado de algo e outro para descrever como uma pessoa está.

If you want to express excitement without the butterfly in the stomach, you can use gespannt. Which only implies the expactation/antecipation/enthusiasm part without the getting nervous part.

Lg,
Matt

jonasby
jonasby
2 years ago

Die Artikeln sind immer amazeballs, danke :)

Ich frage mich ob du weißt (weil du nicht erwähnt hast), dass “stir” funktioniert auch in Englisch, für Bewegungen und auch für etwas emotionales: “a touching speech” and “‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”

Linzerin22
Linzerin22
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yes, you can say that, but it’s a rather old-fashioned usage. But you can:
Stir up trouble (also a bit old-fashioned in usage)
Those darn hoodlums always stir up trouble.

Stir up emotions.
The war photos stirred up many emotions in my grandfather.

Thanks for another excellent lesson – great format.

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago
Reply to  Linzerin22

Viele Spaß mit Autobahn fahren!

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Das geht definitiv. Wobei “stirring” klingt für mich mehr nach etwas, was man bei anderen Personen bzw. Geschöpfen beobachtet:

– Thomas didn’t stir for two hours.

Das ist allerdings wohl ein bisschen pingelig.

Zu jonasbys Kommentar: man kann auch ganz gut von “a stirring speech” reden. Die Bedeutung ist “touching” sehr ähnlich, vielleicht ein bisschen mehr in Richtung “Aufruf zum Handeln”.

Mariel
Mariel
2 years ago

Hi Emmanuel,

I learned a lot from this post. I just have a couple of comments:

1. Your first question should be “Which of the following ideas IS NOT covered by one of the rühren-words?” or “Which of the following ideas does NOT cover one of the rühren words?”.
2. I answered Rührei for scrambled egg but it said it was incorrect.

All the best on your Führerschein!

Alice
Alice
2 years ago

Wow, du bist noch nicht mal achtzehn Jahre alt?? Alter, du bist so jung… Meine Nichte ist so alt wie du, ich finde das interessant ;)… Sie möchte Tischlerin werden.

So much information in this lesson – I cannot possibly learn it just by looking at it, I am going to have to write the sentences down in a notebook and practice them in my free time. I have a notebook for my Babbel German lessons – now I will have to have one for this, too. I am going to need it!

And good luck with your Führerschein !!

;)

Raj
Raj
2 years ago

Hi Guys! I am new to this cool yourdailygerman.com learning course.

I went through the grammar section and was in love with the way it is articulated, most of the materials we find online are so scary to begin with, glad I came across this.

I am taking this opportunity to thank one and all for making this course delightful and especially those guys who are donating for someone else’s membership, who is in dire need to learn German and not enough money in the pocket. I am one of such products, thank you all once again.

And a special thanks to Emanuel for making “German learning” accessible to everyone in such an interesting manner and the initiative of making “money isn’t a limitation to learn”.

Wish you all a very happy learning! :)

Warm regards,
– Raj

Jimmy L Ribble
Jimmy L Ribble
2 years ago

Best language lesson ever..practically. Anruin.German is so funny
I laugh when studying it.. Der almtïgen Vater der Gott hat berurt mich..anrüht..mich..nein… das ist dein wort..vor..die..happiness…its so funny..I’m so ashamed…der Papst Benedict… xvi… hurray.. hurray

Jimmy L Ribble
Jimmy L Ribble
2 years ago

BEST LANGUAGE LESSON EVER..peactically..Gid Bless you forever. Thanks for the hard work.

Diziet Sma
Diziet Sma
2 years ago

This is a miracle! I’m beginning to crack these prefixed-verbs. Thank youuu!

Jpanosky
Jpanosky
2 years ago

English has the same connection between to stir and to move – as in “not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse” in The Night Before Christmas.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I think it’s probably a bit less everyday than “sich rühren,” but it’s not a crazy exotic or archaic word to use. You could use it in normal situations – the most typical place I’d think to use “stir” in that sense would be describing someone who’s just about to wake up. We’ve got a newborn in the house, so “he’s starting to stir” wouldn’t be an unusual sentence to hear these days…

Katherine M Flegal
Katherine M Flegal
2 years ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

Or you can say that someone hardly stirred from his easy chair all day

Barratt
Barratt
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

“Stir” meaning “to be (slowly) in motion” is not uncommon, I would say. I remember a South Carolinian making a joke about “there was stirring in the bedroom but not yet in the kitchen” to describe his family slowly waking up late (but not yet making breakfast) on a lazy weekend morning. Like implied, this usage of “stir” sounds slightly more “high brow” than the everyday cooking usage, which made the joke funny, but it is in no way archaic. I think almost every American can recite the opening line to the Christmas poem quoted by .

fairyhedgehog
fairyhedgehog
2 years ago

Bist du wirklich nur siebzehn Jahre alt? Es ist unmöglich! Du schreibst so gut!

Sudha
Sudha
2 years ago

Sie sind sehr gut… vielen Dank für ihre Mühe

Hugh Warren
Hugh Warren
2 years ago

Hertzlichen Glückwunsch zum zweiten Gang!

Bosko24
Bosko24
2 years ago

SUPER wir immer. Es gibt noch unterruhren und herumruhren. Aber ich weis nicht, wie man beide benutz. Danke Lehrer. :)

Bosko24
Bosko24
2 years ago
Reply to  Bosko24

und aufruhren

Bosko24
Bosko24
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

super . Danke bis bald :)

Elsa
Elsa
2 years ago

Hello,
Typos first, as usual:
cookbook is just one word
“there more to it” (there’s more to it)
“berühren would sounds a little bit too sensual” (would sound)
“sour creme” (sour cream)

And now here’s my question: what’s the difference between “sich rühren” and “sich bewegen”? Meaning, context, or something entirely different?

Bis bald!

Barratt
Barratt
2 years ago
Reply to  Elsa

Ich würde vielleicht noch eine kleine Korrektur, die ich interessant finde, anschließen. Auf Englisch steht “scrambled eggs” im Plural. Also “Rühreier” ;-). Rein grammatikalisch geht nur “I want scrambled eggs” (das Gericht) oder “I want a scrambled egg” (ein einziges in der Pfanne gerührtes Ei). “I want scrambled egg” klingt mir komisch. Vielleicht stammen die grammatikalischen Unterschieden (Rührei/scrambled eggs) von den entsprechend erwarteten Portionsgrößen ab. ;-)

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago

Brace yourselves, this is gonne be a long comment. If text appears glued,click read more to fix it.

1) Contribution

1a) In spirt of Halloween,here is a crossword (Halloween themed with okay hints : https://www.reddit.com/user/throwaway262527727/comments/dmragl/halloween_crossword/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share

1b) another idiom/phrase

1b1) die Werbetrommel für jdn/eye (informal)

It means sth like praise and often used in contect of advertising.

1b2) Cooking and emotions are not everything

sich akk [auf etw akk] rühren (inf) , which according to Pons, means to do sth about sth. Here is an example

-Martain hat sich nicht auf seinem Hund.

1C) your homework is to figure these two out ;),
(Von etw dative rühren ) and (ein menschliches Rühren [fühlen] )

I litterly copied the second one beacuse I thought it was funny (ik i am dumb)

2) Einhorn – Gespräch, this one can be taken out of context really easily.

Einhorn 1 : rühren sie die Apfelsaft durch/um oder Ich fasse dich mit meinen Schuhe an.

Einhorn 2 : eine Berührung? Willst du berühren oder anrühren.

Einhorn 1 : …Bleib weg, Müll… Ich soll sich einfach rühren

Einhorn 2 : Hört auf,Mich zu berühren

In English

Unicorn 1 : stir the apple juice thoroughly/in circles or I will touch you with my shoe.

Unicorn 2 : a touch? Will you touch me (emotionally) or physically.

Unicorn 1 : Stay away trash. I should simply move

Unicorn 2 : Stop touching me

3) Suggestion.

How about “brechen”

If we cook stuff, we are bound to “break” plates.
And after the hot meal “touches” the ground, we simply “zerbrechen” a man’s dream

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

1b2) Even those Pons verified?

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Another note I forget, woul you say dict.cc is more accurate? I checked and could only find 1b1 and the second one of 1c

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ah, okay, Dect has (Von etw dative rühren ) as stem from sth

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I understand that. Just sharing the info

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

So I was watching a video on YouTube and I think I understand “rühren” in sense of moving. It’s more about moving spesfic body parts in direction

Sie bewegen ihr arm

We could replace bewegen with rühren. Though bewegen is more comman. This is all according to my understanding

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

This makes sense

Danke