Five German words you'll need to know this summer

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Five German words you'll need to know this summer

The onset of sunny weather in Switzerland means it is time to brush up on your summer-related vocabulary.


1. Affenhitze - scorching heat 

A long-tailed macaque monkey enjoys frozen fruit, which helps it to stay cool in warm temperatures at the Zoo in Saarbrücken, Saarland. Photo: DPA 

When translated directly, Affenhitze means monkey heat, but in this instance it is actually used to describe exceptionally hot weather or scorching heat. 


So if you want to comment on what a scorcher of a day it is, you should say "Heute ist eine Affenhitze". 

2. Sauregurkenzeit or Sommerloch - the quiet when everyone is on holiday

The mid-summer weeks in July and August were typically when schools and offices were empty. There wasn't much going on in the city since the inhabitants went on holiday during this period, and consequently businessmen found it tricky to make money.

Hence Sommerloch became synonymous with the quiet when everyone goes on holiday.

The word - which translates literally to 'summer hole' - is typically used by the media when they have difficulties filling their newspapers for lack of events when politicians flee the city. 

3. Sommerfrische - summer retreat

And where do all of the city folk rush off to during the Sommerloch? To their Sommerfrischen of course. 

Sommerfrische, a slightly outdated term for summer holiday retreat, can be in the mountains, by the sea, or tucked away in the countryside.

Such retreats are popular with those who can afford to escape their busy city lives and enjoy the pleasant summer temperatures in a relaxed atmosphere. 

4. Hitzefrei - when schools have to shut due to hot weather

Teachers and pupils sometimes end up working in warm temperatures if school runs into summer, though the Swiss do draw the line if thermometers register between 25C and 30C in the shade.

At this point, staff and students are sent home, and the day is deemed Hitzefrei, or heat-free. 

5. Kaltstellen - to chill something in the fridge

A man takes chilled beers from the fridge in the July heat in Hanover, Lower Saxony. Photo: DPA

In theory you can use this word at any time of year, but you'll probably find yourself employing it more in summer when the baking hot weather leaves you in want of a cold beer, a chilled glass of wine or refreshing summery cocktail.

Kaltstellen means to keep something cool in the fridge, and can also be used colloquially to mean to sideline someone or throw someone out.


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