Wacky Word Wednesday

Geborgenheit: Wacky Word Wednesday

Welcome to Wacky Word Wednesday, where we explore the world’s oddest vocabulary! There are times in life when you haven’t a worry in the world and you don’t need to spare a thought for either tomorrow or yesterday; you’re right where you want to be. At times like that, you’ll likely be overcome with this week’s wacky word.

quo topGeborgenheit[ɡəˈbɔʁɡn̩ˌhaɪ̯t] -nounThe feeling of security.quo botGeborgenheit

Geborgenheit is derived from the word bergen, which means to “store up” or “stash away” in German. Geborgen is bergen’s past participle and heit makes it a noun so literally, geborgenheit is the noun form of “to have saved.” Most German-to-English dictionaries interpret geborgenheit as “a feeling of security” or “freedom from danger,” but German linguists often insist the word is untranslatable. CSOFT’s Julia Wehrle was happy to share her wonderfully descriptive definition:

“When I hear geborgenheit, I think of being home in Germany at my mom’s house,” she said. “I think of sitting on the living room sofa on a winter night with a fire going just after a big dinner. Maybe we just finished eating some sausages or pizza and I’m curled up talking with my mother and brother about nothing in particular.” She finished, “It’s the feeling of being with the people you love the most in the place you are most comfortable.”

Given a definition like this, it’s easy to understand how geborgenheit came second in a contest for German’s most beautiful word. The 22,000 votes cast from 111 countries show that the feeling, if not the word itself, has international appeal.

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As usual, we’ve come up with a few examples showcasing today’s wacky word:

  • Harry’s aunt found that the geborgenheit she got from spending time with the family became more important to her wellbeing as she grew older.
  • Sarah lay back in the warm sand, an icy strawberry daiquiri-filled coconut in one hand, and reveled in her geborgenheit.
  • Watching his childhood home get smaller through the rearview mirror, Charlie knew it would be quite a long time until he experienced true geborgenheit again.

We here at CSOFT International hope you can find a bit of geborgenheit this week and invite you to share what gives you that special feeling in a comment below. To learn more about the 100+ languages we translate please click here and join us next week for another exciting installment of Wacky Word Wednesday.


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