Word of the Day – “schieben”

schieben-aufschieben-verschHello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time we’ll have a look at another random, boring verb that you’ll never use and its super lame cousins.
On the edge of your seat yet? Perfect :) . Then let’s dive right in and talk about



Schieben is related to the English word to shove. They both come from the same root as words like  shoot, shut, shun, scoot or shuttle:  the mega turbo uber kind of ancient root *skeub- which meant as much as making something move quickly by applying a force from behind. So … it’s kind of what I do with the interns, when I kick their lazy ass for being on Facebook all day. Hmmm… I wonder if the Indo-Europeans had lazy interns too. Like… some Intern-Europeans… meh, anyways.
Seriously though… the core of the root was probably just broad idea of to (make) move quickly. But this whole notion of a pushing force (as opposed to pulling) was definitely in there very early on and it’s  totally part of words like shove or shoot
So… making move by pushing force. And that it is pretty much the core meaning of schieben. However, shoving is rather quick and abrupt, schieben on the other hand… not so much.
Schieben is slooooow. A slow and steady moving of an object across a surface. The sound of the words actually kind of mirrors it. Shove is short and snappy. You wouldn’t really say “shoooooove”. Schieben on the other hand is perfect for that. Schieeeeeeeben. That could totally be the sound you’re making when you’re “schieben”-ing something heavy. Like… pushing a car that won’t start. That is what schieben is, that’s the vibe it has, even though it doesn’t always have to be a heavy object. I can also schieben a book across the table, or a glass of whisky, or a coin. What matters is that it’s slow and steady and the object touches the ground. I think the closest translation is to push but pushing is much broader and whenever it gets a little more dynamic or sudden, schieben is not gonna be the right word anymore. Like…. for actual pushing as in pushing someone you’d say schubsenand in many other situations it would be drücken.
But anyway… I think it’s time for some schieben-examples.

These were about actually moving something but there’s also a very common abstract use of schieben, which is especially useful if you have to pass blame a lot.

The last example is a common idiom which was probably coined because tavern thieves would put their pickings in someone else’s shoes when the city ward made a sweep.
Now, there are also a bunch of compound nouns like  Schiebedach (moon roof, sliding roof) or  Schiebetür (sliding door) but the real power of schieben lies…big shock.. in its prefix versions. So let’s take a look at some of them.
First, there is anschieben, which is basically schieben with a focus on the start, of setting something in motion. You could anschieben a car but also projects or political reforms. Of course, there are other options to say this like beginnen or initiieren but schieben makes it sounds little weightier and slooooow.

And it’s about time someone did. Because the stupid, old manager kept procrastinating about these reforms… which brings us right to the next word: aufschieben. The idea is simple… just think of a snow plow shoving snow up to a huge pile. Only that aufschieben is not about snow… it’s about work.

Of course Aufschieberitis is not a real clinical term, but the word just perfectly describes the condition and so even if it’s completely made up it’s used a lot even by newspapers (for some examples look  here) .
Now we should mention that the German aufschieben is not always negative. In official texts it can also have the neutral meaning of to delay. An aufschiebende Bedingung is the official term for condition precedent (whatever that is) and there’s also the very common expression.

The German version gets used whenever you have to postpone something that you were actually looking forward to…. like having a girls’ night or watching “Shades of Grey” with your partner. Ahem.
Anyway, postponing stuff brings us right to the next schieben-word which is probably the most useful… verschieben. The ver- basically brings in its idea of change of location and the schieben itself is used in a very broad sense of moving. You can verschieben a fridge but also files on a computer and most important of all verschieben is the number one word for moving all kinds of appointments or dates.

Now, of course I didn’t put the files into this folder because I want to sort them. I’ll aufschieben that until the computer breaks down. I put them in there because I want them gone. I want a clean, nice looking desktop. And that kind of brings us to the last schieben-verb and get ready for what is probably one of the most callous, cold words of the German language: abschiebenSchieben with some idea of ab to it… how bad could it possibly be? Well, the main meaning of  abschieben is to deport. Deporting someone isn’t a nice thing to begin with but calling it abschieben… I don’t know. Like… brushing the snow from the windshield or a bunch of bred crumbs from the table going like “Ewww”. It just sounds super cold.

And even if it’s not to deport, abschieben is about getting rid of persons.

  • Wer nicht genug Überstunden macht und sich nicht genug bei den Chefs einschleimt wird auf unattraktive Posten abgeschoben.
  • People who won’t do enough extra hours and who don’t suck up enough to their bosses are often pushed put into unattractive posts.
    (is that idiomatic?… danke).

So that’s abschieben and especially in context of deportation, I really don’t like it.
Now, there are a few other verbs like einschieben, wegschieben or zuschieben but I think you’ll always get them from context.
Before we wrap this up though, there’s one more word to talk about… the noun. The verb itself is schieben, the ge-form is geschoben and the noun is… der Schub.

Germanic Words™ – because vowels, shmowels.

The word Schub has a whole bunch of meanings. For one thing it the physical term for the energy or force that causes a movement. Schub(kraft)thrust in English, is what makes planes fly and rockets lift off.
But Schub is also used in daily life a lot in sense of boost, rush or surge, so unlike schieben, it has actually preserved the original notion of a quick and sudden movement.

There are plenty of compounds with this Schub like Adrenalinschub (rush of adrenaline) , Müdigkeitsschub (surge of fatigue),  Fieberschub (fever attack or a hot stage). And of course Schub is also the base for the nouns made from many prefix versions.

The only prefix-version that does not use this is verschieben. There, the noun is die Verschiebung.
Anyway, there are a few other Schub-words out there. If you pass a construction site you might see a Schubkarre and if you’re buying a blue ray box set of your favorite show it’ll probably come in a Schuber. And last but not least there’s the very important word die Schublade, literally slow-push-load, which is… a drawer. So … in English, it’s named after the way it is opened, in German it’s based on how it is closed, a fact that is very telling for the different mentalities of English speakers and German because  the German speakers tend to put things in their drawers and then close them while .. uhm… English speakers have a penchant for opening their drawers and whipping out thi.. gee, who wrote this nonsense. I… uhm…  the interns … yeah…  these stupid interns and their crappy scripts… stop making stuff up, you hear me!!
Anyway, I think that’s it. We’re done. This was our German Word of the Day schieben. It’s related to shoot and shove but while those have preserved the original notion of a sudden, quick movement, schieben has grown more relaxed over the years and now it is a slow and steady pushing of something. Especially the prefix-versions and the noun Schub are super common in daily conversation and I’m sure you’ll come across many examples.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions or if you want to try out some sentences just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

Vocab (including some new):

schieben – slowly, steadily push/shove
aufschieben – to procrastinate/official: to delay
abschieben – to deport
verschieben- move to a different location/ reschedule something
der Schub – the thust, surge, rush
die Schublade – the drawer (lit. the shove-load)
etwas auf jemanden schieben – passing the blame for something onto someone
die Schiebetür – the sliding door
der Zahlungsaufschub – the respite
ein Projekt anschieben – get a project going (figurative)
der Schieberegler – the slider (on a mixer)
die Verschiebung – the postponement 

for members :)

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Mary Jo
Mary Jo

Reading these is the next best thing to living in Germany and being fully immersed in the language. That’s how much linguistic value I am getting out of these…and all right on my phone. I love it. Thank you!!!


A brilliant post. Thanks very much !


Are you aware of what “drawers” can mean in (American?) English? It makes the “Schublade” paragraph a bit funnier…

For “(auf unattraktive Posten) abgeschoben”, I think “stuck in/with” would be the first thing to come to my mind. I feel like there’s another good expression for this, but it’s too late at night for my brain to find it.

Also, “Forbearance is not acquittance” sounds to me much more like it’s about something negative: “Not punishing you (at least not immediately) does not mean you’re actually off the hook for what you did.”


Thanks again, some very useful words and concepts here.

You asked about idiom, in this one the best idiom in English would be ‘to sideline’, think of a train being shunted into a lonely siding to slowly rust and decay:
Wer nicht genug Überstunden macht und sich nicht genug bei den Chefs einschleimt wird auf unattraktive Posten abgeschoben.
People who won’t do enough overtime and who don’t suck up to their bosses enough are often sidelined into unattractive posts.

For aufgeschoben in English you would have ‘put off’, delayed, postponed or deferred in order of increasing formality (for me anyway).
Aufgeschoben ist nicht aufgehoben = ‘delayed but not cancelled’, ‘the postponement doesn’t imply it’s cancelled’ or something like that.


Deutsche Sprache 1 – English language 0.
For all the vast vocabulary that English is said to have I can’t find any single word that means ‘to push slowly’.

Perhaps someone can [get a grant to] research whether German speakers are less inclined to leave drawers open than English speakers are. If so the next question is whether the behaviour follows the meanings of ‘Schublade’ and ‘drawer’, or whether the words follow the behaviour. More likely the former, I think…..That would be DS 2 – EL 0…..There has been some interesting work done on perceptions of inanimate objects that have names with different genders in different languages. (A summary is here https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/culture-conscious/201209/masculine-or-feminine-and-why-it-matters )

‘Aufgeschoben ist nicht aufgehoben’ sounds like a normal sort of expression, whereas ‘forbearance is not acquittance’ sounds very stiff, formal and probably used only by lawyers…if at all. ..Final score Deutsche Sprache 3 – English language 0.

P.S. The thing that I think distinguishes ‘shove’ from ‘push’ is more roughness or carelessness than speed.


I’ve read about that research before. You have to wonder what it says about the German psyche that “Wurst” is feminine…

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader

It’s also feminine in Russian.

Heide Lee
Heide Lee

Thank you so much for the vocab list at the end! I really need & like the recap. Also, I often hear people use the expression “to put something off” (procrastinate) which is seems identical to the literal meaning of aufschieben


Yeah, “put off” is a normal/informal synonym. As Mark Twain said: “Never put off till tomorrow what can be done day after tomorrow just as well.”

Paul LIpska

This is a great site, it takes me back to my days of slaughtering the german language as a high school exchange student.


Wonderful. Thanks so much for sharing.


I had a question about one of your example sentences:
Mein Chef hat wollte mich zusammenscheißen aber ich habe alles auf den Praktikanten geschoben.

Is ‘wollte’ here not a verb? I thought all but the first verbs had to go at the end. Would it be incorrect to say ‘Mein Chef hat mich zusammenscheissen wollen’?

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader

There is simply a mistake there, strike “hat”.
Your sentence is also correct.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader

* gibt dem Firma
* Mein Chef hat wollte mich zusammenscheißen


Please don’t say “gonna.” “Going to” is the correct phrase.


You’re wrong. Gonna isn’t correct, but if that’s the sound he wanted us to hear from him, then that would be more correct than going to, which wouldn’t have the same sound he wanted. I’m sure he knows that going to is technically the correct one.

Grateful Reader
Grateful Reader



thass hilarious


Hey Emmanuel, erstmal Super nützliches Post.
Geht das, wenn “Verschieben” bezügliches Küchen zeug wie Geschirr und ähnliches verwendet wird. Zur Seite stellen oder zur Seite schieben klingt mir irgendwie besser, aber ich weiß es nicht, ob sowas sich idiomatisch anhört.




Love this article. Very refreshing in its style. I am German and sometimes we forget all the little nuances of the word “schieben” and its translation. I loved the “Aufschieberitis”. Haven’t heard that for a long time. I could imagine to have this post also as a video!


Hallo Emmanuel,
Also, Es hat wohl nicht direkt mit dem Thema zu tun. Wie wird dieser Satz richtig geschrieben?
Woanders Verschieben oder woanders hin verschieben?
Der mit “woanders hin”, kommt mir häufiger benutzt vor. Worin liegt das unterschied?


Jo, Es ist mir jetzt klar. Ich hätte es mir so denken sollen. Aber Danke Emmanuel.
Hast du Zufälligerweise eine Facebook-Page oder sowas, die man die man liken können?

Auntie Widdershins
Auntie Widdershins

To inch – to move by small degrees




Ich habe eine Frage über Grammatik. Sollte es “Ich habe alles auf die Praktikanten (Akk.) geschoben” sein? (nicht auf den Praktikanten)?


Ah so. Ein “schwaches Nomen”. Alles klar. Ich habe immer noch ständig Probleme wenn es um Artikeln geht.