Word of the Week: Frauchen, Herrchen und Hündchen

Apr 26, 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.

Frauchen, Herrchen und Hündchen

Rudo in the Park Enlarge image (© Germany.info) Dog owners are notorious for claiming the special bond between man and dog; a dog is, after all, a man’s best friend. The following words, however, refer to the dog's best friend: his “Frauchen” or “Herrchen”. These words refer to the owner of a dog, i.e. his mistress or master, but they have no direct translation with a similar connotation into English.

The word “Frauchen” is made up of two parts: “Frau” and “-chen”. “Frau” can mean woman, wife, lady, mistress, Ms., or female. In this case, the best way to translate it is “mistress”. By adding the diminutive, “-chen”, the word takes on a more sweet or cute meaning. It could be translated as “the little mistress”. The “Frauchen” belongs to the dog. Similar with “Herrchen”: “Herr” means man, lord, master, Mr., or male, and the diminutive tenderly turns it into “the little master”. Despite a wide variety of furry – and not so furry – pets, Frauchen and Herrchen are only used when speaking of dog owners. The term conveys special ownership - the dog's lady or lord.

For example, “Rudo ist Laurens Hund” is translated as, "Rudo is Lauren’s dog". But when the word “Frauchen” is used, the ownership is reversed. “Lauren ist Rudos Frauchen” then means, “Lauren is Rudo’s owner”. The owner belongs to the dog, rather than the dog belonging to the owner. Another way it can be used is by the owner herself “Rudo, komm zu Frauchen!” would be translated as “Rudo, come to mommy!” In the US, we are much more apt to refer to ourselves as the parents of our dogs rather than their owners or masters. In German, they gave us a term that falls right in the middle – too sweet to be merely an owner, but not quite a motherly word either.

The counterpart for the words Frauchen and Herrchen is “Hündchen” (or “Hundchen” in some regions), which can be translated as doggy, pooch, or puppy dog. Again, by fondly using the diminutive "-chen", the word "Hund" becomes sweeter, expressing that special relationship only dog owners know ...

© Germany.info

Word of the Week

Word of the Week

do Deutsch

Do Deutsch

The German language opens up a wealth of opportunities. Learn why you should "just add German" here on our do Deutsch pages.