Word of the Day – “verschwinden”

Hello everyone,

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. This time, we’ll take a quick look at the meaning of

verschwinden

 

And to give you a real life example… imagine you’re finally having the first date with your crush, you’re having really good conversations and it is going really well and then you suddenly let go a really noisy fart.
The urge you feel in that moment, the thing you want to do… that’s verschwinden.
“Erase my date’s short term memory?”
Uh… no… the other thing.
“Turn back time  and prevent myself from eating that onion-bean-salad?”
NO… I mean to disappear. That’s what I want to do.
“But Emanuel, that’s the least productive option. Because if you disappear, the date will be over and you’ll be all alone in your bed.”
Hmmmmmmm… good point. Maybe that’s why I was single for so long #singletear
But hey, let’s not waste time with dating tips and jump into our topic instead…

So, yeah verschwinden means to disappear and we’ll start right with a few examples…

As you can see, verschwinden is a classic example for this super power of Germanic verbs of making a vowel disappear and another one pop up. In present tense, it’s verschwinden, in written past (preterit) it’s verschwand and the ge-form is verschwunden. Schwi-schwa-schwu, basically. So that’s something to watch out for. But apart from that, verschwinden is pretty straightforward and also the related words are easy.

And since we’re at related words, we have to mention verschwinden‘s cousin verschwenden, which is the German word for… to waste. Makes sense, I think. Wasting something (resources of some kind) is basically making it disappear.

So verschwinden and verschwenden are both pretty cool words to know.
But there’s more to discover about that family and it’s not Zeitverschwendung to dig a little.

You might have noticed that verschwinden and verschwenden look an awful lot like a verb with a ver-prefix.
Well, it is. It’s the ver-version of schwinden. And the meaning of schwinden is to dwindle, to slowly disappear. It’s not common at all nowadays, but you can find it in books and you might see the noun der Schwund in compounds (if you work in the food and beverage field … Schwund is the official term for wastage)

So, verschwinden (with the away-idea that ver carries) is basically an intensified or completed version of schwinden. But where does that come from? Some of you might have noticed that there’s wind in there. And that would make a lot of sense. Like… verschwindengoing away the wind, disappearing.
But as intuitive as that might be, wind and schwinden do not belong to the same family. In fact, it is not known where schwinden comes from.
But there is a relative in English…. the word swindle.
Now you might be like “Wait, what does that have to do with disappearing.”
Well, we could say that disappearing is something you do after you swindled someone, but that’s actually not the connection.
You see, German has schwindeln as well. In German it is more common than in English and it’s used for small scale, harmless lies. Like… schwindeln is the small brother of lügen, if you will.

Wait… where were we… oh, oh, swindle. Right. Sorry.
So, the schwindel-branch does carry the notion of lying, but unlike in English, there’s another idea… and that’s actually the main one. The idea of lightheaded, dizzy. You know… when your head spins a little.
Like… der Schwindel can be used for a scam, but it also means lightheadedness and vertigo. And if you feel dizzy you use the same weird phrasing you’d use to say you’re cold or hot….

And this idea actually ties in perfectly with the idea of dwindling, that we had for schwinden. Why? Because feeling lightheaded or dizzy comes right before losing  consciousness . Which is a kind of disappearing.

And what about the idea of lying? Where does that come from? Well, a while back people would use the noun der Schwindel in a more metaphorical way of feeling enthusiastic. Like… “Oh my God, this Mozart Sonata is so amazing, I feel like I’m gonna pass out.”  
And from that, it’s not far to enthusiasm based on false promises. Like… “My policies as a president will be so amazing, they’ll make you pass out.”
Hmmm… okay, maybe that’s not the best slogan. But yeah, I think you get the idea.

Now… we’re almost done for today, but there’s one more word that we absolutely have to mention, because it looks like it belongs to the family, as well. It starts with Ge and while the German autobahn doesn’t have a limit for it, the word itself is certainly a limit for itself.
Yeah… that was a pretty confusing hint, but you still might have guessed it. I am talking about die Geschwindigkeit, the German word for speed, and one of the least fitting words of all time.
I mean, come on… Geschwindigkeit... that sounds like peeing on dry leaves, not like a fast car.
Anyway, the noun is based on the adjective geschwind, which is an old, bookish sounding word for quickly, swiftly.

  • “Harry, Ron, seid ihr da drin?”
    “Oh, einen Moment, Hermine.”
    Geschwind packte Harry seinen Stab und rief: “Verschwindibus Spurus.”
    Als Hermine den Raum betrat, saß Harry alleine an seinem Schreibtisch…
  • “Harry, Ron, are you in there?”
    “Oh… just a moment Hermione.”
    Swiftly,
    Harry Potter grabbed his wand and proclaimed: “Vanishus Tracus.”
    When Hermione entered, he was sitting at his desk, alone…

And in a perfect world, this is absolutely related to schwinden. I mean… disappearing and speed are not far apart.
But… the real world is not a Disney movie. It’s not always perfect.
Princesses poop and geschwind is NOT related to schwinden. Actually, it’s related to gesund (healthy)  and they come from an old Germanic root that was about strength.
But hey…. I’m just mentioning this to not present wrong information. It doesn’t really matter from a practical perspective and if you want to think of Geschwindigkeit as connected to verschwinden or even the wind, go ahead. Whatever helps you remember it best.
So yeah, while geschwind is kind of out of fashion, die Geschwindigkeit is THE word for speed and there are plenty of beautiful compounds with it, one more slowing down than the next… Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung (speed limit),  Ermüdungsrisswachstumsgeschwindigkeit (fatigue crack growth rate)

Yeah… uh… and I think that’s it for today.
This was our look at verschwinden and its relatives. And its non-relatives :).
As always, you can check how much you remember by taking the awesome quiz my underpaid 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. 

 

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371

Test yourself on verschwinden!

1 / 7

What does verschwinden mean?

2 / 7

Which noun does NOT make a logical pair with verschwenden?

3 / 7

Which word fits best to the idea of: “disappearance of volume, weight”?

4 / 7

What is the verb for “to say/do a small scale, harmless lie”?

5 / 7

What does the phrase Mir ist schwindelig.” mean?

6 / 7

Which word means scam and vertigo?

7 / 7

Which word does NOT exists in German:

Your score is

0%

** vocab **

verschwinden = to disappear;
das Verschwinden = the disappearance
verschwindend = vanishing(ly)
gering = low

verschwenden = to waste
die Zeitverschwendung = a waste of time

schwinden = to dwindle to slowly disappear
der Schwund = the official term for wastage
der Gedächtnisschwund = the memory loss

schwindeln = a swindle a lie it’s used for small scale harmless lies
der Schwindel = fraud/scam/swindle; lightheadedness and vertigo;
schwindelig = dizzy/lightheaded
Mir ist schwindelig. = I feel dizzy/lightheaded.
der Schwindelanfall = an attack of vertigo

die Geschwindigkeit = speed, velocity
die Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung = the speed limit
die Höchstgeschwindigkeit = the maximum speed

 

 

for members :)

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Elsa
Elsa

Hello,

Here are today’s typos so you can make them verschwinden:
“yup, the’re all connected” (they’re all connected)
“straight forward” (straightforward)
“a resources” (either a resource or resources (better IMO))
“like a verbs with a ver-prefix” (like verbs)
In quiz question 7 (which word does not exists – extra s in exist)

I have a question about the coffee example, although not directly related to today’s topic:
Is there any difference between “zuviel” and “zu viel”?

No more questions for today, I’m studying for a mock exam on Saturday, wish me luck; I hope I don’t suffer from Gedächtnisschwund!
Bis bald!

Ahmad Mazaheri
Ahmad Mazaheri

Dass geschwind mit schwinden nichts zu tun, macht mich schwindelig! Wer konnte es denken , es hat lieber
mit gesud ? Wannsinig. Deutsche Sprache ,schwere Sprache .
Vielen Dank lieber Emmanuel , ebenso für deiner Assistentin .
Ahmad

Ruth
Ruth

A couple of remarks on the English versions.
Although probabilities are low and high, not small and big/large, “vanishingly small” is a standard expression in other areas of maths. Oxford English Dictionary gives “an event of vanishingly small probability” as an example, apparently confirming my feeling that the expression would prevail even in statistical use.
From maths to magic. While many wizards do carry staffs the implement used for casting spells is generally a much smaller “wand” (with the “a” sounding like a short “o” as in “wash”). “Der Stab” seems to cover both in German, with “wand” possibly distinguished as “der Zauberstab”.

Special thanks for the instagram link in your email alert.

berlingrabers
berlingrabers

I’m not sure I’d generalize about what implement wizards use for their spells, but at any rate, wizards in Harry-Potter-World use wands for sure. (I’m partial to Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books myself, and there, staffs/staves are definitely standard.)

Silvia
Silvia

Vielen Dank aus Spanien!

Tiger
Tiger

Hi, this is my first artical of the week. Why it is telling me that I reached the limit I can read for free already? I was able to read your atricals before but now I can’t get to read into the main part. Do I have to re-subscribe?

Alan
Alan

Gibt es Einhörner in Bulgarien? Gute Photos

ngen31
ngen31

HEAR ME OUT
Maybe German blacksmiths back in the day figured out when they hit metal it makes the sound “schwinnnnnnn” (it was German metal so of course it makes a sound with sch) and then it slowly quiets down or ‘dwindles’, so they started using the verb schwinden to convey that idea!

ale
ale

great website!
could you please offer a feed reader, sodass wir deine Webseite abbonieren können und keinen Beitrag verpassen? Danke!

Mona
Mona

Hallo!

This lesson has been so entertaining, I really liked the sentences I don’t think I will forget that unicorns are maybe Schwindel – gasp –

After reading this my mind put pieces together and figured out this anime name “das verschwinden der haruhi suzumiya”

thank you so much , also I would like to thank the amazing members who donates to German is easy! because of you guys I was able to get a free year membership and learn as much as I can! thank you so much everyone ~ I will make sure to treasure this and learn a lot .

Abgasstufe Es-Zett
Abgasstufe Es-Zett

Weird “F”hrasing Frage??/

And if you feel dizzy you use the same weird phrasing you’d use to say you’re cold or hot….

Hmm, usually in English when hot and cold are used in a sentence “paired” together, hot always precedes cold.
ex. This room is usually too hot or too cold.
A thermostat regulates hot and cold
Would you like your roast beef sandwich served hot or cold?
An unstable person is often emotionally excessively hot or cold.

Ist sowas beim Deutsch auch der Fall? Wie beim “Kopf oder Zahl” Heads or tails.
???
Gibt es eine tyoische Reihenfolge?
Ich bin sehr neugierig was Du darüber zu sagen hast.
MfG,
Abgaz
24.5.19

jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjohn
jjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjohn

Hey man(u), amazing stuff as always, many thanks and much respect!

Out of interest, as another example, might one say:

Zuviel Kaffee verursacht Gedächtnisschwund?

Oder…?

Haha. Seriously though, I just wanted to say that with Maria’s example, maybe ‘fib’ would work better than ‘lied a bit’?

My dictionary also gives ‘flunkern’ for ‘fib’, so maybe you intended not to say that, but I think it’s apt in the above context.

Word!