Word of the Week: Bierernst

Apr 29, 2016

Bierernst Enlarge image (© picture alliance / dpa Themendienst) If you're trying to express how serious you are about something, what word would you use? In German, you would say you are bierernst ("beer serious"). No joke! Or is it?

The word bierernst (which is an adjective) does not sound like one that you would use to express your seriousness. But it is - seriously! Someone who is bierernst about something is someone who is not kidding around. Germans are clearly serious about their beer - so serious, in fact, that the word "serious" is overly emphasized when combined with the word "beer".

Bierernst Enlarge image (© picture alliance / dpa) Let's look at an example: your friend tells you she is moving to China. At first, you think she's joking - why would she take off and fly halfway across the world? She looks at you sternly and tells you that she is bierernst. At this point, you know she's telling the truth.

The term can be traced back to the early 1900s. At the time, it was assumed that wine makes people act happy and relaxed, whereas beer changes someone's mood and makes them more serious. But whether or not this is the case, you can still use the word bierernst to express your sincerity!

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

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