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



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.

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.

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…

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.

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.

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.
only talks about physical touch by a person and it often implies some kind of usage or “harm”.

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

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.

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 :)


for members :)

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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


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!


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. ;-)


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


und aufruhren

Hugh Warren
Hugh Warren

Hertzlichen Glückwunsch zum zweiten Gang!


Sie sind sehr gut… vielen Dank für ihre Mühe


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


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.

Diziet Sma
Diziet Sma

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

Jimmy L Ribble
Jimmy L Ribble

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

Jimmy L Ribble
Jimmy L Ribble

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


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


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 !!



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!


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”

Renuka de Lima
Renuka de Lima

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 !!!!!!



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

Andrew S Koebrick
Andrew S Koebrick

Any relation to the word ruhig / quiet?

Cyndey B
Cyndey B

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

Peter Rettig
Peter Rettig

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