Saturday, 2 March 2013

About animals and things

German compound nouns range from weird to cute to hilarious. Personally, I like -tier and -zeug endings a lot.

Fellow German learners, enjoy the following list of animals:

Faultier - lazy animal - a sloth
Pantoffeltier / Pantoffeltierchen - small slipper animal - paramecium
Urtier - origin animal - protozoa
Bärtierchen - small bear animal - tardigrade / waterbear
Gürteltier - belt animal - armadillo
Nagetier - gnaw animal - rodent
Säugetier - suck animal - mammal
Murmeltier - murmur animal - groundhog
Rentier - ? - reindeer
Stinktier - smell animal - skunk
Schnabeltier - beak animal - platypus
Kuscheltier - cuddle animal - stuffed toy
Schlaftier - sleep animal - ("soft toy" (*), a toy that kids cuddle to help them fall asleep)

(*) Is this what it is called?

And the following list of things (**):

(**) Some people say that "Zeug" would be more accurately "equipment" or "stuff". But since this is kitchen linguistics, we'll use "thing".

Fahrzeug - drive thing - vehicle
Luftkissenfahrzeug - air pillow travel thing - hovercraft
Flugzeug - fly thing - plane
Spielzeug - play thing - toy
Schwimmzeug - swim thing - swimming gear
Feuerzeug - fire thing - lighter
Schlagzeug - hit thing - drum kit
Werkzeug - work thing - tool
Teufelszeug - devil's thing - stuff of the devil


  1. Old castles even had a Zeughaus (armory).

  2. There is also Flickzeug (patch-thing/fix-thing), cf. Flickwerk (patchwork) and Werkzeug (above).

  3. But note the inconsistency here: Fahrzeug, Flugzeug are vehicles whereas the extrapolation of that, Schwimmzeug, is actually a Schiff.

  4. I've never heard of a Schlaftier. From the description I would call that Kuscheltier. Might be a fairly new word.

    It's actually Teufelszeug (note the Genitiv 's').
    And there is also Nähzeug (sewing things) and Strickzeug (knitting things).
    In fact you can add 'zeug' to almost any noun and it will almost always make sense (though it might not always be an official word).

  5. So not unlike -nen and -tin, on some level.

  6. A Kuscheltier is a "stuffed animal" in American, also called a "plush toy" or just a "plushie" in some regions; in British it might be a "soft toy" or "cuddly toy". The special one a child needs to sleep would be a "lovey"; a lovey might also be a blanket, doll, washcloth, or whatever else the kid has imprinted on.