Word of the Week: Vitamin B

Jan 18, 2013

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.

Vitamin B

Vitamin Capsules Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/Lehtikuva/Hehkuva)

During the winter cold and flu season, our thoughts turn to vitamins and healthy foods to help heal the body. "Vitamin B," however, denotes a different kind of vitamin in the German language.

"Vitamin B" is not only something found in fresh fruit and vegetables in Germany. In this instance, the "B" actually refers to the word "Beziehungen" (relationships, or connections). Knowing the right person at the right time can help you get your foot in the door. In this vein, "Vitamin B" means that someone had the right "connections" at a certain organization or workplace to help them land that plum job assignement or move up the corporate ladder.

"Der hat die Stelle bekommen durch 'Vitamin B' (He got the job through 'Vitamin B')," may be overheard whispered in workplace corridors across Germany, sometimes in an obviously negative or envious context.

This expression also underscores that the word vitamin is spelled the same way in both English and German, except that in German it is capitalized just as all nouns are capitalized in the German language. The noun "Beziehung" moreover may refer to all manner of relationships. A "Liebesbeziehung," for instance, is a romantic relationship.

© Germany.info

Word of the Week

Word of the Week