Word of the Week: Dauerbrenner

Nov 30, 2012

Every Friday, Germany.info and The Week in Germany highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers.


Gas Burner Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/ZB) If something lasts for a long time, like a hit song that tops the charts for months on end or a hot topic of conversation, it could be described as a "Dauerbrenner" given its "long run" in the limelight.

So a "Dauerbrenner" may be an enduring, long-running hit or a major topic of conversation that keeps cropping up in a certain context, like a "continuous burner." In the former sense, a classic Broadway show, hit television series or perennially popular rock song could be a "Dauerbrenner." In the latter sense, a major public policy issue such as healthcare reform or striking the right work-life balance for on-the-job parents could also be called a "Dauerbrenner."

In German "Ausdauer," in a primarily athletic sense, means endurance. "Dauer" generally stands for length of time, duration, term, continuity or permanence. So if something is "von kurzer Dauer" it is brief or short-lived. If something is "von langer Dauer" it is of long continuance. And if something is "von unbestimmter Dauer" it is of indeterminate duration.

Dauerbrenner Enlarge image A long, passionate kiss could be called a "Dauerbrenner." (© picture-alliance/chromorange)

The verb "brennen" means to burn, and a "Brenner" is a burner, in both a literal - as in a stovetop burner - and a figurative - as in the compound noun "Dauerbrenner," for instance - sense.

Although most German speakers do not really use it at all on a day-to-day basis in this context, many online sources - including Germany's iconic Duden dictionary - also describe a "Dauerbrenner" in more colloquial terms as a long, passionate kiss.

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