Word of the Day – “der Stamm”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. Today, with a look at the meaning and the family of

der Stamm

 

It’s the German brother of the English stem and many of you have probably seen it in context of language and grammar. But that’s also the most boringest context.
There’s much more to discover about the German Stamm and its related words, including a really really handy German use for the … but I’m not gonna spoil it.
So, are you ready to learn some words? Then let’s jump right in.

The origin of Stamm is the presentably ancient Indo-European root *sta- , which might very well be the biggest root ever. Seriously,  the core idea of it was standing, be firm and the amount of words that come from it is much longer and more diverse than the list with reasons why Parasite was a good movie. Seriously… I hated it. If that gets an Oscar, Niko’s Weg should get one, too
Anyway, there’s of course obvious stuff like to stand or steady but there are loads of words you wouldn’t expect, like Afghanistan, cost, system, staff or institute, and they’re all basically variations over the theme of standing. And since it was our topic just last week… the sta-family is a perfect showcase of how marbled with prefix verbs European languages really are.  To cost for example,  actually used to be constare in Latin. This is also where constant is from and the literal meaning of that was “to stand at/with” and one context was for weighing scales standing still because they’re in balance. Which was a common way to measure value back then.

Anyways, so der Stamm , die Stämme in plural (note it, you’ll need it in the quiz), belongs to this family and it stayed rather close to the core idea because the original meaning of Stamm like stand, thing something stands on. One of the oldest uses is for the “stand” of a tree, the trunk.

but already very early on people used it in a more figurative sense for an idea of base and so today, we have words like Stammzelle (stem cell) or Stammhirn (brain stem) and Stammbaum (family tree). Oh and der Stamm is also the German word for tribe.

And now we get to the really handy use I promised in the beginning.
Because it has this notion of base, tribe, people started using Stamm in the context of going somewhere regularly.
A Stammbar for instance is the bar you usually go to.

You might be like “Oh, it’s like favorite bar.”, and yes, favorite is also a fitting translation. But keep in mind that the focus of Stamm- is on the regularity. It’d be weird calling a place Stammbar if you only go there twice a year. And a Stammkunde or Stammgast for instance are words for regular customers, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the staffs favorite.

Now, a bar is not the only thing you can be a regular at. Many people also have a Stammcafé and technically, you can also have a Stammsupermarkt (supermarket you always go to) or… I don’t know…  a Stammgeldautomat (go to ATM), but those aren’t really used that much. This whole Stamm-thing does imply that there’s actually people there who know you.
There is another word that we need to mention, though, because it’s a really really typical German thing… the Stammtisch.
If you’ve ever been in a hotel that has a pool and lots of Germans, of you might think “Oh it’s like the thing Germans do with their towels and beach chairs.”
If you don’t know what that is… Germans have a reputation of getting up extra early to put their towel on one of the beach chairs to kind of claim it, and then they go back to the hotel to brush their teeth, have breakfast and maybe even take a nap and come back like three hours later. Brits apperantly also do that, and recently rich Russians have joined the game by bribing the hotel staff to place the claiming towel during the night so Germans now find themselves between two fronts… again.
Anyway, where were we… uh yeah,  Stammtisch. So Stammtisch has nothing to do with blocking a table. You can have your “regular” table at your Stammbar, but that would be called Stammplatz.
The Stammtisch is actually more like a tradition. It’s a bunch of friends meeting regularly for drinks, (usually beers). Often, it’s the same bar, but the venue isn’t that important. What matters is that the “tribe” sits at a table, drinks beers and talks life, sports and politics. The translation REALLY depends on context so let’s just look at some examples.

  • In Umfragen sagen die Leute eine Sache, am Stammtisch was anderes.
  • In polls people say one thing, at the bar with friends they say something different.

To me personally, the word Stammtisch sounds a bit old-fashioned. Like… it’s a boomer thing, for dads with dad buds and beer bellies, not for pretentious avant-garde woke millenial hipsters like myse… wait, what the… hey, to whatever intern who wrote the script for this section… I’m NOT woke, okay?! I am waking! That’s the REAL shit. Woke is steady, stagnant. Waking is fluid, like life.
Anyways…  the whole concept of a Stammtisch is kind of a part of German culture, and definitely a word to know.
Cool.
So that’s pretty much the noun der Stamm.
But before we wrap up, let’s take a quick look at the related verbs, and there are essentially two: stammen and stemmen.
Stammen and its prefix version abstammen tie in with the whole family aspect because they express the idea of origin.
Stammen is usually used for geographic origin or in context of who created something. The prefix version abstammen is ALWAYS about a biological origin.

Stemmen on the other hand has nothing to do with that. It means something along the lines of  to push (up) against something heavy.

It’s not very common, but what’s cool about it is that it is the key to a word many German leaners are wondering about – I’m talking of course about Verkehrssystemmanagement, which means the manag… okay, I’ll actually stop this here, because I get lost in the nonsense again :).
This was our look at the meaning of Stamm and the handy German words Stammbar and Stammtisch.
As usualy, if you want to check how much you remember, you can take the little quiz I have 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.

 

** vocab **

der Stamm – the trunc, the stem, the tribe
der Baumstamm – the trunc
die Stammzelle – the stem cell
das Stammhirn – the brain stem
der Stammbaum – the family tree

die Stammbar – your go to bar
das Stammcafé – your go to cafe
der Stammkunde – the regular customer (also: Stammgast)

der Stammtisch – regular meet up among friends with beers

stämmig – bulky, sturdy (for looks of a person)

stammen von/aus – originate from
abstammen von  – be a descendent of (biological)
die Abstammung – the biological origin

 

for members :)

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Elsa
Elsa

Hello,
Typos as usual (Stammtypos):
“with a look meaning” (with a look at the meaning)
“more divers than” (more diverse)
“becaue” (because)
“canoo” (canoe)
“in more figurative sense” (in a more figurative sense)
“we have word like Stammzelle” (we have words like Stammzelle)
“sits at a table, drink beers and talks life” (drinks beers)
old-fashioned has a hyphen
“avantgarde woke millenial” (avant-garde woke millennial)
“geopgraphic” (geographic)

A Stammbar in English is probably your regular hangout (although you could use this for a cafe or any other place where you meet your mates on a regular basis).

One question, is Stammtisch important to fellows to the point of actually making them decline an invitation to join someone and their best friend for sauna or were the women in the example really ugly?

Bis bald!

Vee
Vee

Thanks Elsa for pointing out the typos! Also there was no audio file for “ In Umfragen sagen die Leute eine Sache, am Stammtisch was anderes.” However, I still enjoy the program.

Shaun Martin
Shaun Martin

Hi Emanuel,

In UK English we would say “This bar is my local” for “Das hier ist meine Stammbar” :)

Thanks for a great article!

Shaun

Anonymous
Anonymous

I agree the colloquial expression in English is often my local – you don’t need to refer to a bar – it’s implied and short for my local pub.

Wayne R McKinney
Wayne R McKinney

Stammbar? In Amerikanski a Stammbar could be a haunt, a hangout, a stomping ground, or a hidey-hole, for example.

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri

Ich bin sehr dankbar für diesen hilfreichen und humorvollen Artikel. Du hast vollkommen recht dass Stamm und Afghanistan haben, sprachwissenschaftlich meine ich, etwas gemeinsam mit einander zu tun. Allerdings , das Wort Afghanistan besteht aus Afghan unt Stan. Die Suffixe Stan kommt aus Perschich und bedeutet wie Land. Es gibt solche Komponente auch in Englisch oder Deutsch. Eire+ land( irland), Angl+Land( Englend) oder Deutsch+Land Deutschland, etc.
Aber jetzt, habe ich eine Frage . Gibt est in Deutschland nur die Stammtische für Bier trinken, essen und diskutieren ? Ich Frage nur aus Neugierigkeit.
Bis bald

Jake
Jake

I wasn’t familiar with hauen in the sense of “to carve”, what’s the difference between that and schnitzen?

Laura
Laura

My great grandparents surname is Stamm. Is that a common German/Swiss name.

Xalo
Xalo

Verkehrssystemmanagement has nothing to do with Stemm (as highlighted in the text). There are 3 words: Verkehrs-system-management

anne
anne

Sorry, Bit the correct term is born and. It Stammhirn

thorrudbek

I’m in doubt about something in the German version you sent in the e-mail (by the way is there a way to read that as well in the website, or we get it only in the e-mail version?).

‘Wir reden über der Stamm.’

Should it not to be Akkusative with über and hence ‘Wir reden über den Stamm’ instead?

Nancy
Nancy

Are you saying “most boringest” for fun? Because we don’t use “est” and ‘”most” together, since they mean the same thing. Or are you doing so for emphasis? I personally wouldn’t do that, but maybe I’m a most boringest writer. : )
Love your articles!

Lichfield1956
Lichfield1956

Hey Nancy, I hope your comment is in fun because it’s so obvious this is written to be amusing and I’m pleased he knows enough of English language to change words to these funny sayings – it helps me cope with difficult German explanations……

Vorlaufer
Vorlaufer

That was so funny, saying that Nico’s Weg could win an Oscar. That is one of my favourite ‘sitcom’ soap operas.

Jeremy
Jeremy

Stammtisch auf Englisch…Watering Hole?

Jeremy
Jeremy

Stammbar auf Englisch…Watering Hole?

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

I thought of that too, but I don’t really feel like it carries the sense of “Stamm-” with it. It’s just a bar, maybe the local bar for a particular area, don’t you think?

Germanyisprettyneat88
Germanyisprettyneat88

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I *hate* Parasite, but it was not a good movie

DEmberton
DEmberton

For some reason I thought the Stamm in Stammtisch was to do with speaking. I was probably unconsciously thinking of the English word stammer (kind of the opposite of speaking). But that’s Germanic: stammeln in modern German and related to Stumm, as in “Ihr Mikrofon ist stummgeschaltet” as Skype likes to tell me. Are all these connected? I guess a stammer is standing, in the sense of holding up normal speech.

Peter Norris
Peter Norris

At least in my day the equivalent of “Stammbar” would be “local” as in

I going out for a pint with my mates at my local.

parisbongi
parisbongi

“…showcase of how marbled with prefix verbs European languages really are.” Nice turn of a phrase!

Stewart mee
Stewart mee

Die Stammbar in England war the local

Cyndey B
Cyndey B

Always a nice article and quiz. Thank you !

Amerikanerin
Amerikanerin

Stammtisch in AE?

My stomping grounds. My favorite haunt (haunt is a place you visit frequently – one just doesn‘t use „haunt“ ohne favorite). We used to call it a „hang-out“ but that seems outdated and negative now. Like, thugs hang out somewhere.

One would also say, that one is a regular somewhere, or „we can meet at my regular place.“

Regulars usually have a nickname for their favorite haunt – a name that only the regulars use.