Things and stuff

Yesterday I learnt the German word (das) zeug, which means stuff; gear; clothes; things; nonsense; rubbish; old material – a useful word when you don’t know or can’t recall a more specific term. Having a few such words up your sleeve in whatever language(s) you’re learning is a good idea. What are equivalent words in your language(s)?

Zeug also appears in the such expressions as:

- altes Zeug = junk, trash
- albernes Zeug = (silly) nonsense
- dummes Zeug = rubbish / nonsense
- … und solches Zeug = … and such things
- dummes / ungereimtes Zeug reden = to talk a lot of nonsense / drivel / twaddle
- dummes Zeug sabbern / schwafeln / schwatzen = to talk drivel
- rede kein dummes Zeug = don’t talk nonsense
- das Zeug zu etw haben = to have (got) what it takes to be sth
- er hat nicht das Zeug dazu = he hasn’t got what it takes

I also learnt how to say combine harvester (a very useful word!) in German: mähndrescher (“mane thresher”).

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This entry was posted in English, German, Language, Words and phrases.

15 Responses to Things and stuff

  1. Gary says:

    It’s true that there is a word Mähne in German which means mane, but more relevant to the word mähndrescher is the verb mähen (to mow). The thing mows, threshes and boxes the result.

    Loosing a schwa here or there is common in German words.

  2. Macsen says:

    Unsurprisingly Welsh Cambrocises stuff to ‘stwff’.

    But we ca also use the suffix ‘-ach’ at the end of words to denote stuff or inconsequential stuff e.g.

    poblach – loads of people, a hoard of people whom you probably can’t be bothered to know more about

    papurach – loads of paper stuff

    pyfetach – loads of blincking flies

    cawlach – a big mess, from ‘cawl’ (broth, which, itself of the same root as ‘caul’ in English cauliflower and ‘kohl’ in German).

    pethach – loads of ‘pethau’ – things

  3. David Eger says:

    ‘Zeug’ also comes up in compounds such as:

    das Flugzeug – aeroplane
    das Werkzeug – tool
    das Spielzeug – toy

    …and, in concurrence with my suspicions, the Online Etymological Dictionary says it is cognate with English ‘toy’.

  4. David Eger says:

    German also has ‘die Sache’ for ‘thing’, cognate with English ‘sake’. It can also have a meaning similar to its English cognate.

    French has ‘la chose’, Portuguese ‘a coisa’ and Spanish ‘la cosa’, all cognate with English ’cause’.

    Why have ’cause’/’sake’ and ‘thing’ become conceptually divorced from one another in English?

  5. BG says:

    In addition to ‘die Sache’ and ‘das Zeug’, German also ‘das Ding’. To me it seems that ‘Ding’ and ‘Zeug’ are more concrete, while ‘Sache’ can be more abstract.

    Latin uses ‘res’, often in an abstract way, such as ‘res publica, gen. rei publicae’ which is the origin of the word ‘republic’ and means “the public thing” or “the matter of the people”.

  6. Margaret says:

    Mähdrescher, no N.

    There is the weird word Gut: das Kochgut (what you are cooking), Mähgut (what you are mowing or have mowed) etc.

  7. Corinna Sih says:

    Corinna June 11, 18″30
    GLUMP is a very handy word for anything that does not work ,or perform it’s intended use.
    referring to Margaret’s GUT, you can add ERBGUT (inherited wealth, also referring to traits inherited such as eye color, stature or defective genes,etc(

  8. Corinna Sih says:

    Very interesting, I have always been keenly interested in language-words, dabble in 4 other languages

  9. Petréa Mitchell says:

    Japanese has 物 mono:

    飲物 yomimono – beverage (drink-thing)
    建物 tatemono – building (build-thing)
    物語 monogatari – tale, legend (thing-recitation)

  10. TJ says:

    I always mix up this word with another one in German: Zug (train). Still mix up today I think!

  11. David Eger says:

    “Why have ’cause’/’sake’ and ‘thing’ become conceptually divorced from one another in English?”

    I take that back. We have a few words like ‘keepsake’ and ‘namesake’ that refer to ‘things’.

  12. Lev says:

    Btw, instead of “das Ding” you can say “dings” or “dingens”, without the article.

  13. Alan says:

    Dutch ‘Vliegtuig’ = German ‘Flugzeug’ and Dutch ‘Tuig kamer’ = English ‘Tack room’ (in stables), so Zeug = Tack, or tackle (equipment, apparatus) ?

  14. c payne says:

    in a similar vein, the Irish use the word YOKE to mean thing rather than stuff. as in “that yoke over there”
    see my blog above for mre detail, Ive nicked some of your explanations for it too, hope, you dont mind!