German word of the day: Das Bützchen 

Carnival season in Germany usually means you can expect one or two pecks on the cheek.

German word of the day: Das Bützchen 
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

February is in full swing, which can only mean one thing in Germany: carnival is around the corner.

In big cities across Germany carnival fans eagerly await the so-called “fifth season”. Although it technically began back in November, February and March is when the largest festivities kick off. This joyous occasion is often accompanied by one, or usually many, Bützchen.

What is ein Bützchen?

In pre-corona times if you attended a carnival celebration in Germany you would expect little to no social distancing. Instead, you’d find yourself in dense crowds and may be given a peck on the cheek (and sometimes mouth) by total strangers – a form of greeting known as a Bützchen.

A tradition originating from the Rhineland area, the kiss symbolises happiness and celebration. 

Regional dialects may also call it a Bützje, and the corresponding verb is bützen. The term, translating to “little kiss” according to the Duden dictionary, comes from the late Middle High German word butzen, meaning to push. A synonym which is used more widely across Germany is Küsschen

Rosenmontag, which this year falls on February 28th, is the high point of the Karneval and it usually includes hundreds of floats passing through cities or towns that celebrate. 

This year it will be scaled back once again due to the pandemic, but there will still be some celebrations (and, of course, you can mark the day at home by dressing up in a very colourful outfit and planting a Bützje on your loved ones. 

Two Karneval revellers share a kiss on Rosenmontag.

Archive photo shows two Karneval revellers sharing a Bützchen on Rosenmontag. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Julian Stratenschulte



Darf ich dir ein Bützchen geben?

Can I give you a kiss? (informal) 

Das Beste am Karneval sind Singen, Tanzen und Bützen.

The best parts of carnival are singing, dancing and kissing.

„Heute bützen und lecken, morgen mit Knüppeln und Stöcken“ (a proverb originating from Cologne)

Kissing and licking today, tomorrow with cudgels and sticks.

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German word of the day: Büffeln

If you or your children are gearing up for an exam, this colloquial verb might come in handy.

German word of the day: Büffeln
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Most people will know the feeling: you have an exam coming up and have to work and study extra hard in preparation – often cramming in revision the night before.

Not to be confused with the German word for Buffalo: “der Büffel”, büffeln as a verb that roughly translates to “cramming”.

However there may be some connection to the wild animal – revising to the point of feeling like an overworked buffalo or ox before the plough. Similarly, even the verb “ochsen” is used to signify working diligently at something, with the root of the word stemming from the German word for ox “Ochse”.

Büffeln is a colloquial term (or umgangssprachlich), which can have similar connotations to the British informal term “swot” – a student, perhaps a teacher’s pet, working extremely hard. The noun form of the word, “der Büffler”, can therefore be used in this context. 

Other study terms that are used synonymously to büffeln are pauken, bimsen or stucken.

READ ALSO: What it’s like to study abroad in Germany during a pandemic

Young people sitting an exam at a school in Dresden.

Young people sitting an exam at a school in Dresden in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Robert Michael

The first university semester is coming to an end for many students in Germany, meaning exam season is coming up and a lot are surely planning on some “büffeln” (me included!).


Ich kann heute Abend nicht feiern gehen, ich muss für meine Prüfung morgen büffeln.

I can’t go out tonight, I have to cram for my exam tomorrow.

Obwohl ich versuche, im Voraus zu lernen, scheine ich immer in letzter Minute zu büffeln.

Although I try to study in advance, I always seem to cram at the last minute.

READ ALSO: Studying in Germany: These are the words you need to know