Sumpf

I discovered the wonderful German word Sumpf /zʊmpf/ today while putting together les mots de la semaine for this week from the French conversation group. One of the things that came in conversation was the word marsh, which is le marais or le marécage in French, and Sumpf in German, which I noticed because there’s something about the combination of mpf in a word that just appeals to me. Are there particular letter combinations that appeal to you?

Sumpf means marsh, morass, mud, bog, quagmire, mire, sump, and can also be used figuratively to refer to corruption, e.g. der Sumpf der Politik = the murky waters of politics.

Related expressions include:

- Sumpfland = marshland; swampland
- sumpfig = marshy; swampland
- Sumpfboden = marshy ground
- sumpfen = to live it up
- Sumpfdotterblume = marsh marigold
- Sumpfpflanze = marsh plant
- Sumpfgas = marsh gas
- Salzsumpf = salt marsh

The word marsh comes from the Germanic base of mere (sea, lake), which is cognate with the Latin mare, and related words in many European languages; plus the suffix -ish (of or belonging to a person or thing, of the nature or character of).

Sources: Wiktionary, Reverso, OED, bab.la dictionary

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

8 Responses to Sumpf

  1. Drabkikker says:

    The Dutch cognate is zomp “swamp”, although nowadays you only encounter it in the adjective zompig “soggy”, “swampy”.

  2. David Eger says:

    “The word marsh comes from the Germanic base of mere (sea, lake), which is cognate with the Latin mare, and related words in many European languages; plus the suffix -ish (of or belonging to a person or thing, of the nature or character of).”

    French marais is presumably also connected – and English morass. How about moss (a local word for bog/marsh/moor in NW England) and moor?

  3. Gary says:

    If you have a Sumpf, you can drain it with a sump-pump.

  4. Chris Waugh says:

    Gary seems to be drawing the same connection as I am – is sump cognate with Sumpf? Etymonline (http://tinyurl.com/qaubaf6) seems to suggest maybe.

  5. Simon says:

    David – marais does come from the same root as morass. Moss comes from a different Germanic root.

  6. Lev says:

    Reminds me of “Strumpf” (smurf) with the same combination.

  7. Zeppelin says:

    Lev: You mean “Schlumpf”! “Strumpf” is also a word, but it means “stocking” :)

    Other German “mpf” words I can think of include “Kampf” (battle, presumably from latin “campus”), Dampf (steam/vapour, cognate with “damp”), Klampfe (a simple guitar, cognate with “clamp”), “mampfen” (to munch), schrumpfen (to shrink), and probably some others that are slipping my mind right now.

  8. dreaminjosh says:

    Like Lev, I’m also reminded of smurfs. However in French, they’re called “Schtroumpfs”

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