Word of the Day – “Schild”

Hello everyone,

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

Schild

 

It’s not the most useful word ever, nor is it hard to make sense of. But what it does bring to the table is not only two genders, but also two plural forms. Yeay. Every learner’s wet dream. Wet from tears!
So let’s dive right in, shall we..

So there’s das Schild and der Schild, and the two have distinct meanings.

  • Cpt. America wirft seinen Schild.
  • Cpt. America wirft sein Schild.

The first sentence is about what Cpt. America does when he’s fighting evil space aliens. He throws his shield.
The second sentence on the other hand is about what happened in summer last year. Steve Rogers (Cpt. A.) was at the Friday’s for Future protest and then Tony Stark drove by with his big SUV. And Steve was like “You’re destroying the planet, Tony!” And Tony was just like “Well, at least I’m having fun. I’ll save it later.” And he revved the engine.
And Steve was just like “Get out of here!” and hurled his little self made “Skolstrejk för klimatet” sign at Tony’s car.
Tony was like “What the… I hope you have insurance, Cap.” and Steve was like… but let’s get back to our topic actually.
So yeah… der Schild means shield and das Schild means sign. But ONLY sign in the sense of a board with information on it. Any other sign is das Zeichen.
Because of course the two Schilds in German are related.
The origin is the marvelously (get it?) ancient Indo-European root *skel- which was about cutting, carving and the original meaning shield was something like “piece cut from wood“. For a long time, the main users of those “shields” were knights and soldiers but those would often bear the sigil or the the army or something. So they had an “informative” component. Soon people started making similar looking signs for their taverns and craftsmen stores and this “informative shield” turned neuter and got a new plural while the “protective shield” remained masculine.

  • Der Ritter pariert den Einhorntritt mit seinem Schild.
  • The knight parrys the unicorn’s kick with his shield.
  • Ich kann das Verkehrsschild nicht lesen.
  • I can’t read the traffic sign.
  • “Ein Einhorn-Battle Cruiser enttarnt sich neben uns, Captain.”
    “Sofort Schilde hoch!!”
  • “A unicorn battle cruiser is decloaking next to us, Capatin.”
    Shields up, immediately!!”
  • Bitte lasst eure Namensschilder während der Konferenz dran.
  • Please wear your name tags during the conference.
  • Der Schilderwald in Deutschland ist so dicht, dass darin Rehe wohnen.
  • The forest of traffic signs in Germany is so dense, that deer are living in it.

That’s true, by the way. I was in driving school recently, and they showed us a short clip of 30 seconds of someone driving along a main road in a small German town and we had to count the traffic signs. No one saw all of them and there were over 50. And here’s an even more extreme example… in Lübeck, a German city, they put up 161 signs within 400 meters …

They put up no parking signs for every single parking pocket along that street because they were afraid of “misunderstandings”. So yeah, Schilderwald is a really good word for that.
And in general, the informative Schild is BY FAR more common. And in fact, some people write das Schutzschild even though it’s a protective one. Officially, it’s der, but das Schutzschild doesn’t sound wrong to me either. Die Schutzschilder does sound wrong though… a nice example for how language changes and that what is right ultimately comes down to what feels right which in turn is shaped by what you hear most often.
Cool.
Now, we’ve already seen a few Schild-compounds but there’s two more we need to mention: die Schildkröte and die Schilddrüse. Schildkröte literally means shield toad and it’s the German name for turtle.
And Schilddrüse is the German word for thyroid, which is this little organ in our throat that produces a bunch of really important hormones. Die Drüse is the German word for gland in general and the Schilddrüse is called that way because it looks a bit like a shield. And that’s actually kind of a direct translation of the ancient Greek ancestor of thyroid which meant “doorshaped shield”.
Damn… I feel so chatty today, I hope you don’t mind :).
Anyway, besides the compound nouns there’s also the verb schildern, and that one is kind of interesting. Its prefix version ausschildern is literally about putting up signs to guide the way.

  • Der Weg ist gut ausgeschildert.
  • The way is well signposted.
    (is that idiomatic? The idea of ausschildern is that you put up signs leading the way)

But schildern by itself has shifted a little and became a translation for to describe. It still has this information component, but it’s not about signs in any way anymore.

  • Der Zeuge schildert den Verkehrsunfall.
  • The witness describes the car accident.
  • Die Schilderung deiner Reise war sehr spannend.
  • The delineation/narration of your journey was very interesting.

Schildern sounds a bit official, though, and only works for events or processes. Not so much for objects. Generally, the word beschreiben is MUCH more common as to describe and I’d say you can put schildern to your passive vocabulary.
Cool.
Now, some of you might be wondering about the verb to shield. But that’s actually NOT translated with Schild. One option is abschirmen, which is based on the noun der Schirm. But we’ll just take a look at that one some other time :).
For today, we’ve done enough. This was our look at the meaning of Schild with its two genders and plurals. As usual, if you want to check how much you remember, you can take the little test we have prepared.
And of course, if you have any questions or suggestions, just leave me a comment.
I hope you liked it, have a great week und bis zum nächsten Mal :)

 

** vocab **

das Schild (die Schilder) – the sign
der Schild (die Schilde) – the shields

die Schildkröte – the turtle
das Verkehrsschild – the traffic sign
der Schutzschild – the protective shield
die Schilddrüse – the thyroid
die Schilddrüsenunterfunktion – the hypothyrosis

die Drüse – the gland

ausschildern – put up signs
gut ausgeschildert – well marked (for roads)

schildern – describe (events)
die Schilderung – the description (for an event)

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Sheryl
Sheryl
2 years ago

I’m super late to this party, typical, but wanted to add my two cents.

“The route, or path, is well posted” is to me the most common way of expressing that there are adequate and legible signs along a way. Using the verb ‘post’ in this context strongly implies signs, and takes away the need to say “signposted”, which actually sounds awkward and redundant.

Fun stuff, as usual. Thanks

german santos
german santos
2 years ago

German santos is present

Elena
Elena
2 years ago

I think there is a little mistake above. You have written: “das Schutzschild – the protective shield” but I think it should be in this context “DER Schutzschild”.

Liebe Grüsse

Robin
Robin
2 years ago

I am not yet ready for Schild but wanted to help you— and all English learners — with two things: 1) gonna. Don’t say it. Though it’s used, it’s not used by people with any kind of education or class. Even many young people avoid it. My own kids, ages 30-18, avoid it. And my granddaughter is not allowed to say it. Save that one for the ignorant, untraveled, and hip hop/rap street singers. 2) it’s “Yay!” Not “Yeay. “ Nor is it,” Yeah.” The last means,” Yes.” You’re welcome, and thanks for the lessons, E!

Eric Rachut
Eric Rachut
11 months ago
Reply to  Robin

Robin, concur and thank you…..enough of “gonna” particularly!

Kika
Kika
2 years ago

I guess for most of people here it is important to know if your correct answers hit above or below the average, but each time I see my answer is compared with the average I feel sad. I would like to know which one I answer incorrectly but I don’t want to know the average. I don’t see the point. Is there any way I don’t have to see the column?

Tierwelt108
Tierwelt108
2 years ago

Der Schild and Das Schild. Ah yes, the two genders.

Pentatomidae
Pentatomidae
2 years ago

Great post. Schildkröte – I think that translates as tortoise in BE. I have no idea why the Americans call them turtles. Turtles live in the sea and tortoises live in your garden.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

“Tortoise” = “Landschildkröte”
“Sea turtle” = “Meeresschildkröte”

For AE, “turtle” is the generic term for all kinds, so it wouldn’t be wrong to call a tortoise a “turtle,” just imprecise. But we do use “tortoise” for the terrestrial, non-swimming kind. I think if you just say “turtle,” I would think first of a freshwater turtle (in America, these are a.k.a. “terrapins”): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-eared_slider

Robin
Robin
2 years ago
Reply to  Pentatomidae

Americans call them all turtles because they don’t know the difference. I know but can’t remember which is which. We also confuse crocodile and alligator, because we can’t ge bothered to remember or never learned which is which. It’s like geography. We just DON’T KNOW. Be nice. It’s kind of like when a two-year -old calls all 2-legged animals “dog.”

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

For one, alligators live only in the Americas, while crocodiles live in the Eastern Hemisphere. Alligators have a shorter, more rounded snout, and when their jaws are closed, you can only see their top teeth. Crocodiles all (I think) have a pair of bottom teeth that show even when their mouths are closed.

:)

Michael
Michael
2 years ago

Schildkröte literally means shield toat . I believe you mean toad

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri
2 years ago

Very interesting post . It makes me to remember a lots of other german names with two genders . Just a few exemples: der/das Laptop, der/ das See, das/der Blog, die/ der Sellerie, der/das Yaghourt, ….. etc . I have to fight always to find the right gender.
Vielen Danke
Bis nächstes mal

DEmberton
DEmberton
2 years ago
Reply to  Ahmad Mazaheri

Die See ;-) Die See = sea, der See = lake. I *think* that’s the right way round. As if German genders aren’t confusing enough.

How many words have three genders? I only know Band: die Band = musical band. Das Band = ribbon/band/etc., der Band = bound or volume of books.

Alison
Alison
2 years ago
Reply to  DEmberton

German can be a real pain/pane sometimes. How do Germans get it right all the time? Was a good artcle, though. Thanks.

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago

A)Einhörner Gespräch

E1 : Auf dem Schild steht einen Schild.
E2 : eine gute Schilderung,

Ende

Very small Gespräch

B- I) For suggestions, I often see words with “trag” and prefixes of “tragen” so mabye that? The same kinda of happens with “reden” but less.

B-II) And here are some common words and i think there prefixes would be interesting

Schreiben ( Und vellicheht lesen?)
Raten.
Deinen
Fangen
werten

B-III) Here – 2 stupid idea

1) a random article, full of rather random words (mabye rare) or Spesfic words

abspielen, lauren

2) Since you want to update some of the old articles. How about a cocktail update article.

Its basically, Small additions to many of the older articles

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

Here is a mini Example for number 2

For example, Fehlen article misses Empfehlen und befehlen

Spannen misses ausspannen

Holen article misses weider holen And So

The cocktail article will contain all of them + other missed words in other articles

More suggestions – gang (appears in a lot of words not)

Breite und realted words Mabye – Wohnen Verwohnen Anwohnen

Turtles
Turtles
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

Here is a mini Example for number 2 For example, Fehlen article misses Empfehlen und befehlen.
Spannen misses ausspannen. Holen article misses weider holen. And So The cocktail article will contain all of them + other missed words in other articles

More suggestions – gang (appears in a lot of words ‘)
Breite und realted words Mabye – Wohnen Verwohnen Anwohnen

Werfen

Fangen

Herverb vs reverb (I kinda remember you did talk about it during one of your articles)

Elsa
Elsa
2 years ago

Hello again,
Let’s start with the usual typos:
“reved the engine” (revved)
“marvelously” (marvellously)
“the main use for shields of knights and soldiers” – this phrase is confusing, I think what you mean is that shields were mostly used by knights and soldiers ;)
“deer is living in it” (deer are living in it)
“Noone saw all of them and it was over 50” (No one saw all of them and they were over 50)
“the put up 161 signs” (they put up 161 signs – unbelievable, if not for the pic, I’d have thought you were joking!)
“doesn’t sounds wrong” (doesn’t sound wrong)

The way is well signposted is idiomatic, although I’d probably say “the road” or “the route” instead of “the way”

“there’s two more” is grammatically wrong from the point of view of a purist (or grouchy grammarian), which I’m not. Like you said, language changes and to me it sounds just fine (a bit like the “you wouldn’t get much far” that sparked so much controversy last week – technically wrong, but I’ve definitely heard it and sounds in fact cool!) I could point out a couple more examples, e.g. “same difference”, meaning two things or situations are pretty much the same, or “innit” (isn’t it).

Funny that the thyroid looks like a shield to Germans! I’ve translated a few texts about the thyroid and it’s always referred to as a butterfly-shaped gland :))

Oh, I scored yet another 100% on my latest A2.1 test – saying that, it was a gap-filling test and the longest word was darueber, but still…) What I really wanna say is that you deserve a lot of the credit, because I learned most of the stuff I was tested on from your articles!!!

Bis bald!

aoind
aoind
2 years ago
Reply to  Elsa

I think “there’s + plural” is a correct abbreviation. I mean “there’re” is not really an option. A bit like “aren’t I?” is correct and “amn’t I?” is not. And I spotted a typo you didn’t Elsa! “Kröte” = “toad” not “toat”.

Elsa
Elsa
2 years ago
Reply to  aoind

Just goes to show everyone makes mistakes! Of course “there’re” doesn’t exist. I think “there are” is probably the grammatically correct choice if you’re a VERY, VERY fussy, prissy grammarian (which I’m not!) To me it sounds perfectly fine :)
As for “amn’t I” (yikes!), it should be “am I not?” and then you’d sound really hoity-toity :))

aoind
aoind
2 years ago
Reply to  Elsa

I think all of these fall into the same category as “less” vs. “fewer”, in that the grammatically correct version can sound forced, stilted and extremely formal, while the other version sounds natural, proper even, despite being technically incorrect. I have a feeling (in fact I may have read it) that AE cleaves to the grammarian principles much more closely than BE does, although clearly you yourself recognise that “am I not” sounds rather “up itself”.

aoind
aoind
2 years ago
Reply to  aoind

That should properly read “some” grammarian principles. I think AE is rather looser with tenses than BE.

aoind
aoind
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

I’m thinking about AE’s common use of the past tense instead of the perfect and combining present tense adverbials with past tense. Like in BE we say “I’ve already eaten” whereas in AE that’s “I ate already”. Also using “would have” in past tense conditional statements, like where in BE we would say “If I’d done that…” in AE it would be “If I would’ve done that…”, which, to me, seems weird.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
2 years ago
Reply to  aoind

I think a lot of AE speakers would use past simple and past perfect interchangeably with the “I’ve already eaten” example, but it might depend on context. To me, the perfect sounds more immediate, like I just finished eating or it was the last thing I did before whatever I’m doing now or arriving where I am, that kind of situation. “I ate” feels more temporally flexible. But the difference isn’t sharp.

That said, yeah, I don’t think AE *requires* the perfect in nearly as many situations as BE.

The “If I would’ve…” thing is, I think, a little dialect-y, and I think it’s more a rhythm thing: “If I’da done that” just feels rhythmically better in some accents/dialects than “I I’d done that.” And then my (uneducated) guess is that the “I’da” gets interpreted as “I would have” because of how it sounds. But “If I would’ve done that” is definitely not idiomatic for all AE speakers.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

No, I don’t think any modern English speakers anywhere use “had” by itself as a subjunctive anymore – “I had done that” always sounds pluperfect, not conditional, always “hatte” rather than “hätte.”

You really do sometimes hear people in the US say “If I woulda done that” rather than “If I’d done that.”

DEmberton
DEmberton
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

You should go to Yorkshire. Were and was get swapped around so that “I were” and “they was” are normal. And so would be “there was 3 trees”.

Every time I read “Es sind” it throws me and seems wrong because I think of es as a singular it, but that’s not what is happening at all. However in German you say “Es gibt drei Bäume” and not “Es geben drei Bäume” because then it is a singular it, whatever the “it” is that is going around giving us things.

aoind
aoind
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

Yes that’s wrong (some people would say it but it would mark them as grossly illiterate). There are just some abbreviations that have evolved over the years that don’t make sense when you elongate them.

Robin
Robin
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

There were three trees. Not exceptions, unless of course there were only two trees… haha.

Elsa
Elsa
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

“There was 3 trees” sounds wrong to me. “There’s” for plural only sounds “natural” in the present tense, I suppose… (there’s 3 trees sounds natural, albeit grammatically wrong)

I’m moving to B1 in October, although I’ve been learning a lot of stuff in advance (once again from your articles – the ones on the conditional are SUPER). The test I just did was about adjective declension, the genitive, wo-words, da-words, verb+prep combos, reflexive verbs and time prepositions (I’m still waiting for the missing article in this series, BTW, but the others were a life saver)

Now I’m learning the Paeteritum :)

Margie
Margie
2 years ago
Reply to  Elsa

Though, to be fair, “marvelously” is correct in the US! :)
It is neat to know that “well signposted” is idiomatic there–here in the midwest of the USA, “well marked” or “clearly marked” rolls off the tongue most easily, and we would probably say, “The way is well marked” (unless there was a distinction regarding the type of way: “the path is well marked,” “the road is well marked,” etc.).

The more I learn about grammar, the less of a grouchy grammarian I become. Language is a continually evolving medium for communication!

Thanks for another article, Emanuel!
Congrats on the A2.1 test, Elsa!
Bis bald!

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
2 years ago

Yeesh, how *do* you say “gut ausgeschildert” in English? “Well signposted” makes good sense, although I’m not sure it would occur to me in speech. I’d probably say “well/clearly marked,” maybe “clearly indicated” in a more formal setting… but neither of those really makes clear that it’s marked with signs. Gonna have to think some more about that one.

I’ve also heard “gut/schlecht beschildert” in real life (I mean, not *often*, but I’ve heard it). How would you compare that with “ausgeschildert”? I think I mostly remember somebody using it to describe a bus stop where it wasn’t easy to find/see/understand the sign saying the stop had been moved around the corner, or that the bus wasn’t running on a particular day, something like that.

aoind
aoind
2 years ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

“Well signposted” might be more common in BE and it is common to use it in a figurative sense too, as a way of saying there are, or were, plenty of clues and prompts.

DEmberton
DEmberton
2 years ago
Reply to  aoind

I would say “well signposted”.

I put it into google hoping to find a figurative use, and found this: “The road to Heaven is well signposted, but it is badly lit at night.” – Irish Proverb.

coleussanctus
coleussanctus
2 years ago
Reply to  berlingrabers

Well marked definitely works. Some variations that popped in my head:

The road is well marked (by/with signs).
The road has good signs.
The road has good signage.

The first two I would consider everyday speech and the last one is more formal. The part in parentheses is optional. I think when “marked” is used in this context, it’s implied that it refers to signs. Or it’s just built into the verb. I had to peek at a dictionary, but one definition (as a noun) is a symbol or sign used to show where something is (Cambridge) or a conspicuous object used to guide travelers (Merriam Webster). Verb-ified, it just means to make a mark.

Those are my ramblings anyway, as a kid who read more than was probably healthy and never grew out of it.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers
2 years ago
Reply to  German-is-easy

How about the noun form “Beschilderung”? As it so happens, I just got a message about a meeting later today telling me “einfach der Beschilderung folgen”, so I thought I’d mention it.

I think “signposted” tends to sound more figurative to my ear.