Word of the Day – “schützen”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. And today, we’ll take a look at the whats and wheres of German verb for to protect.



Hmmm… whats and wheres… is that even a thing in English?
Anyway, the verb to protect is related to the German word die Decke and has no connections to schützen. But schützen does have English relatives.
So I thought it might be fun to give you guys the option to guess, before reading the article.
And then I thought it might be even more fun to do a little poll… so we can see what you as readers think as a whole :).

Which of these words is related to "schützen"

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Can’t wait to check the results.
But now let’s jump right into schützen.

And we’ll start with some examples right away.

But proverbs apparently protect from grammar. Because that position of nicht in the last one… that really should be before vor Torheit. But I guess, it gets a pass because it’s poetry or something.
Anyway, both verbs, schützen and to protect take the thing or person you protect as a direct object, but there’s a slight difference if you want to add the threat. In English you protect from, in German you schützen vor.
That’s actually a general theme that German verbs that involve danger or threats in some way go with the preposition vor. But we’ve talked about that in a separate article in detail, so I’ll leave the link below if you want to check that out.

Now, besides schützen, German also has beschützen. Beschützen ALSO means to protect, and oddly enough, the phrasings of schützen and beschützen are exactly the same, which is rare for verbs and their be-versions.

  1. Ich schütze dich vor etwas
  2. Ich beschütze dich vor etwas.
    I protect you from something.

But there is a difference in tone and like often, the be-version is the more “intense” one.
Beschützen is active, kind of direct or immediate. It sounds protective and implies caring.
A lotion for example can’t really beschützen your skin. That would sound like the lotion knows what it’s doing, and actually does something actively. And also it wouldn’t sound idiomatic to say that the goal of a law is to beschützen something. Because the law itself doesn’t care and isn’t active.
Similarly, it’s a bit odd to say that we’re beschützen our environment. That sounds like there’s a super villain coming for it and we’re putting up a fight.
Just think of schützen as a more general, abstract protecting and beschützen as the actual, hands on, momentary action.

I hope you get an idea about the different tones.
Now, besides those two verbs there’s also the noun der Schutz, which of course means protection.

Oh yeah? Well, Verbraucherschutzzentrale should mind their own business. I mean, come on…  Vrbrchrschtzzntrle… so many consonants … that’s not the most consumer friendly name, if you ask me.
And the only thing that gets wasted during my articles is myself when I’m writing them. I mean… occasionally. I mean… sometimes. Like… I mean… not really wasted. I just might have a beer or two. If that’s a crime, then I am guilty but I am not wasting anyone’s time. Ever.
Anyways, so far, everything about schützen was pretty straight forward.
But that’s gonna change when we look at these examples…

And this raises some questions. Like… what is up with Maria? And what does Thomas say about this? Does he know?
But the question that matters most for us is what protection has to do with shooting and archery (which is the core of the Latin Sagittarius).
And that brings us back to our poll from the beginning and the question which word schützen is related to… shoot, shut or sheet.
And the answer is… drum roll please… both of them. Yup, that does mean shutting and shooting are related.

You see, when we think of shooting we think of a bullet and pulling a trigger. But think about what’s really going on physically. All we do is to quickly “shove” a small thing somewhere. Same with an arrow… you “shove” a stick somewhere. Or just think of fast growing plant. We might say it “shoots” up.
This notion of quickly shoving, hurling (and also chasing)  was the core idea of the super ancient Indo-European root *skeu, from which all these words come. The verb to shoot has stayed pretty true to that idea only the way we shoot has changed.
And the idea of shutting comes from the notion of “shooting” (shoving) a bolt in a door or fence. Just think of chase in a movie… there’s often this close up of a bolt going into the latch. Katchunk. That’s the connection to shooting.
Not super obvious, but not as crazy as it sounds either.
And the connection between to shut and schützen is actually pretty intuitive. Shutting the door or a window does have an element of protection to it. And in fact, a few centuries back, schützen also meant to lock in a room, but it then lost this notion of shutting.

Now, if you want to dig deeper, you can also find connections to scheu (timid) and shy and sheet and even der Schoß (lap). But we won’t go into detail here because then this Vrbrxthczhsnle will start whining again that I am wasting time.

What I do want to do real quick before we wrap up, though, is to look at the German side of the shoot branch.
The verb itself is schießen. Of course it comes with a bunch of prefix versions, and a bunch of idioms, but overall it’s pretty clear.

The noun for the shot is der Schuss or in plural die Schüsse. Of course, it can be used for actual shots, but there are also a few idioms and it’s used in the sense of adding a bit of a liquid to food.
Strangely enough, der Schuss doesn’t mean shot in the sense of shot of vodka. So… you can say that you add a Schuss of rum to your tea, but that’s just an unspecified small amount. For THE shot, you also just say Shot.

And then, last but not least, there’s the noun das Geschoss. One of the meanings of Geschoss is the thing being shot… the projectile. But Geschoss also means story or level or floor in sense of buildings. Normally, you use der Stock or die Etage, if you want to refer to a specific floor. But the ground floor is called das Erdgeschoss and the attic floor is das Dachgeschoss.

And if you’re wondering what shooting has to do with the floor of a building… well, it’s because buildings “shoot up” from the ground. Not the most natural connection, maybe but still much better than story. Like… that high rise I was living in didn’t just have 11 stories. It has countless stories. Behind every door, there are stories upon stories. Stories about hopes and dreams, failure and success, hate and love. Stories about watching Netflix. Stories about accidentally inventing time travel and destroying it to schützen humanity.
Seriously, I had to do it. We’re not ready for that technology yet.
Anyway…  I think that’s it for today.
This was our look at
schützen, beschützen and their family.
As usual, you can check how much you remember of this article by taking the little quiz my amazing assistant has prepared for you.
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. 


0 votes, 0 avg

Test yourself on schützen!

1 / 7

What does schützen mean?

2 / 7

Which preposition goes with schützen for to protect from something?

3 / 7

Which of the following statements are correct?

(multiple answers)

4 / 7

When you are in a bar and you want to order a Bloody Mary shot, in German you says:

5 / 7

"Als ich noch bei meinen Eltern gewohnt habe, habe ich im 8. …….gewohnt."

6 / 7

What does it mean if someone lives “im Erdgeschoss” ?

7 / 7

What is the German name of the zodiac sign Sagittarius?

Your score is



** Vocab **

schützen = to protect (general, abstract)
sich vor etwas schützen = to protect oneself from something
Alter schützt vor Torheit nicht. (proverb) = Age doesn’t protect from folly.(proverb)

der Beschützerinstinkt = protective instinct
beschützen = to protect (“intense”and implies caring)
der Schutz = protection
im Schutz = protected by, in the protection of
der Schutzengel = a guardian angel
der Tierschützer = animal rights activist (lit.: animal protector)
der Schütze = Sagittarius
der Schoß = lap

schießen = to shoot
erschießen = to shoot to death
den Vogel abschießen (Idiom) = to take the bun
der Schuss, die Schüsse = the shot, the shots
der Schuss = an unspecified small amount of liquid, a bit/splash of alcohol
weitab vom Schuss sein = far away from the action/busy parts/city center

das Geschoss = story or level or floor in sense of buildings
das Erdgeschoss = the ground floor
das Dachgeschoss = the attic floor
die Dachgeschosswohnung = an attic floor apartment
der Stock/ die Etage = the floor



for members :)

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It seems you’ve managed to schützt yourself well from typos this time :)
“the goal of a law it to beschützen” (it’s to)
“consumer protections office” (protection, no s)
“I live on the fourths floor” (fourth, no s)… Emanuel, schützt yourself from all these sssssssssssssss)
Only one qustion today, about the quiz, the last question, about Sagittarius, the word is “der Schützen”, right? Methinks there’s a missing -n, but I have a bad cold, so I might be hallucinating a bit!
Tschüss for now!


Or maybe there’s an extra -n in the final vocab section, I’m confused now…


It’s context based


Actually storEY rather than story for the floor of a building. So storeys rather than stories but I guess there’s a story about that, too.


You’re obviously right… but I think Emanuel was making a pun ;)


In American English, it is “story”. Both of you are correct.

Dave B
Dave B

aamtodd, I believe it’s “storey” in Britain, but “story” in America. Webster didn’t like superfluous vowels, you know.

Charles Hersch
Charles Hersch

Actually in America we spell it “story” :-)


There is a typo in the episode.

Ich schützt dich vor etwas
Ich beschützt dich vor etwas.
I protect you from something.

Correct would be:

Ich schützE dich vor etwas
Ich beschützE dich vor etwas.
I protect you from something.


The Schützen in Sud Tyrol are also a group, steeped in tradition, who are basically the “resistance”, who fought against Napoleon and Bavarian forces in 1809. Today they preserve the memory and traditions of old Tyrolean culture.

I never knew it meant they were the protectors…


is “Shot” for shot of alcohol der or das? I can’t find it any online dictionary. Thanks!


Deine Nutzung von “jump the shark” schießt leider den Vogel nicht ab. Zu sagen, dass etwas “jumped the shark” hat, bedeutet, dass es seinen Höhepunkt erreicht hat und sich seitdem verschlechtert hat und lächerlich geworden ist. In diesem Ausdruck ist der Sturz wichtiger als der Sprung.

Also könnte man sagen, dass mit diesem Beispiel dieser Artikel “jumped the shark” hat… (aber nur man, nicht ich!)

Assuming that the German idiom means to do something really well, how about “hit the mark/bull’s eye/nail on the head”? Americans would also say, “Thomas killed/slayed/crushed it”, which is not quite as poetic as the German and actually rather brutish, but, like, no birds were injured in the giving of this presentation, man! Maybe a water buffalo or alligator or something else more deserving of death like Ghidorah or maybe a big cockroach. Either way, everyone agrees that Thomas made a great PowerPoint.

Vielen Dank!


It’s ‘takes the cake’, not ‘takes the bun’, hey.


Brits take a bun. Or at least they did in Bertie Wooster’s time… maybe they’re just as greedy as we are now, though.

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri

Immer mit einem Schuß Humor ! Du hast mir heute zu lachen gebraucht. WIE könnte man an elften Stock( Etage) eines Hochhäuser geschossen werden ?
Vielen Dank Emmanuel und ebenso für deine Assistentin.


I get to learn german through this blog because of the kind people who are sponsoring. Thanks a lot. I promise to spread the kindness when i can.
Thank you, Emanuel


I remember being confused by Scharfschütze the first time I heard it.

“Im Schutz der Dunkelheit” could be “under the cover of darkness”.


Thank you & welcome back. This one is super helpful (and amusing), as usual. You’re awesome!


So… Where’s the article about the use of vor? I got really intrigued :0
I liked the article a lot :D
Vielen Dank!


I get to learn german from this blog because of the kind people who sponsor those who can’t afford. I am very grateful to you guys. Thanks a lot. I promise to donate when i can.
Thank you, Emanuel

Krzysztof Skladanowski
Krzysztof Skladanowski

Der Schutzengel – der Gel vor Sonnenbrand.


Is der Schütze a generic term for a soldier/infantryman, or is that a different word?

Kathleen Comalli Dillon, RDMS
Kathleen Comalli Dillon, RDMS

You are doing a great job. I’m a professional violinist and pianist and have a huge German vocabulary for someone who doesn’t speak German! I’m fluent in French and almost so in Italian and Spanish. However, German seems truly impossible even though I understand much of what’s spoken and have a good grasp of its syntax and linguistics. I’ll try. I’m 60. Thanks for all you do!


Aber in der Karibik ist es nie kalt Emanuel!


Hi everyone,
I am Mainak. I am starting to learn German. And luckily came in this site. Because of your generous help I am here today able to learn in this awesome site. The community members are awesome and as well as the admins of this interesting site. I am grateful to everyone who helped me get to this site with a proper subscription. Wish me luck in learning this great language with guidance from wonderful people like you.


Hi Emmanuel,

Above you said: “That’s actually a general theme that German verbs that involve danger or threats in some way go with the preposition vor. But we’ve talked about that in a separate article in detail, so I’ll leave the link below if you want to check that out.” However I don’t see the link anywhere?


Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak

Flirtet Maria auch mit dem Schutzengel ?