When is a Kraut not a Kraut?

Have I got your attention?

If you are expecting a krautbashing post you will be disappointed! Because this post looks at the different types of ‘Kraut’.

Following on from last week’s post about 20 herbs and their names in German and English I thought it might be a good idea to talk about “Kräuter” and “Kraut” related words.

Kräuter means herbs and is the plural of ‘das Kraut’. But the word ‘Kraut’ can mean various things.

  • herb
  • cabbage (especially in southern Germany and Austria)
  • tops, leaves, stems, and shoots of a plant, for example the carrot tops
  • weed (no, not the stuff in your garden, more like the stuff you shouldn’t be taking 😀)

Then there are compound nouns with ‘Kraut’ (all neuter, because it’s ‘das Kraut’)

  • Blaukraut – red cabbage
  • Eisenkraut – common verbena
  • Gewürzkraut – seasoning herb
  • Heilkraut – medicinal herb
  • Rotkraut – also red cabbage (if you look at one carefully, you’ll see that it’s neither blue or red in colour)
    The terms Braukraut & Rotkraut are again more southern words. Most of the time you see ‘Rotkohl’ (red cabbage)
  • Sauerkraut – sauerkraut
  • Suppenkraut – pot herb
  • Unkraut – weed (this time it is the stuff you don’t want in your garden!)

Of course, there are also some idioms with ‘Kraut’

  • ins Kraut geschossen – out of control
  • Dagegen ist kein Kraut gewachsen – There’s no cure for that.
  • Gegen Dummheit ist kein Kraut gewachsen. – Some people are born that way.
  • wie Kraut und Rüben – higgledy-piggledy

German learning gardeners might like to check out Kraut und Rüben, a German gardening magazine with lots of info online.

Then there is Krautrock. Check out Wikipedia to see how many – if any – of those German bands from the 1970s you’ve heard of.

And finally a tongue twister for you to practise 😀

“Blaukraut bleibt Blaukraut, Brautkleid bleibt Brautkleid.”

1 thought on “When is a Kraut not a Kraut?”

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