Word of the Week: Umtrunk

Apr 1, 2011

© colourbox Enlarge image (© colourbox) Over the course of the year, Germany.info and The Week in Germany will highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers.

Umtrunk

Germans are thought to be disciplined and hard workers who devote themselves to their work. This dedication can only be interrupted by few a things. One allowed interruption is an Umtrunk.

What exactly is it? It’s a gathering of all employees, either from a department or entire workplace, where a special occasion is toasted. Everyone toasts and then hangs around for a bit, talking with your co-workers and eating a little bit if snacks are provided. The Umtrunk is often initiated by the head of the office for occasions as the arrival or departure of a colleague or high-ranking guest. However it can be initated by anyone with something to celebrate. Depending on the professional surrounding and workplace culture, an Umtrunk can be a regular occurrence. Sometimes they are much rarer, so the sight of chilled champagne, orange juice and glasses can cause quite a stir. However, for the most part, the Umtrunk is part of the German culture at work and way to enjoy the workplace while getting to spend some time with co-workers who you may not regularly see.

The term is also used for toasting private occasions when not at work. Often these celebrations may be a little more formal due to the traditional and old-fashioned origins of Umtrunk. The roots of the term are to be found in a Germany of less modern times, where aristocractic language was considered to be the height of style. The term originates from a combination of a verb (trinken=drink) and a preposition (um=around), which gives just about enough an explanation about the meaning.

Prost!

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