Word of the Week: Knuffig

May 20, 2011

Two piglets hang out under a heat lamp in some straw on a farm near the western German city of Münster. © picture-alliance/dpa Enlarge image Two piglets hang out under a heat lamp in some straw on a farm near the western German city of Münster. (© picture-alliance/dpa) 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.

Knuffig/Knuddelig

The digital age has brought about an era that could be described as extremely knuffig - a saccharine yet sweet term of endearment commonly used to suggest something or someone extremely cute and cuddly and, well, just plain downright adorable, huggable and loveable.

Knut then ... © picture-alliance/dpa Enlarge image Knut then ... (© picture-alliance/dpa)

Hello Kitty is knuffig. Knut, the Berlin Zoo's late celebrity polar bear, was knuffig. Most toddlers are knuffig. Friends, children, lovers, grandparents, husbands, wives - all of them can be knuffig too, depending on your point of view.

Knuddelig is a similar expression which basically means the same thing as knuffig - cuddly and cozy. A more direct translation for cute would be niedlich, süß, or putzig.

Cute and cuddly, in any case, is "in", at least if the Internet is anything to go by. A gazillion videos on You Tube, for instance, feature all manner of fluffy baby pets, pandas or humans. Some videos have become global sensations, such as the legendary "Charlie Bit My Finger" featuring two little heart-melting boys from the UK. Still other websites feature "cute things falling asleep," "the cutest cats in America," and so on and so forth.

While some may find all of this knuffig stuff adorable, others are less amused. Some media commentators have, for instance, insinuated that our obsession with all things cute is a psychological response to the traumas and stresses of an unstable world.

Wherever our urges to adore all things knuffig or knuddelig or niedlich come from - evolution certainly plays a role here (if babies werent's so gosh darn cute, making us want to take care of them 'round the clock, they would be in big trouble!) - it should be embraced as one of the most compelling of all human quirks, alongside empathy, altruism and honesty (which remain, often, alas, very lonely words in a very competitive world).

After all, what would the world be like if no one ever felt the urge to find anyone or anything else knuffig?

A sad place indeed.

© 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.