Heiss, Hitze, Heizen – Words for heat in German
Summer has returned to Zurich and like in so much of the world today seemed to come right after winter, though this year most of us in Northern Switzerland were left wondering, what winter? Of course with summer come the warm nights and the hot days. For those coming from places where air conditioners are ubiquitous and indoor temperatures in the summer hover between 18-21 degrees, Switzerland is a furnace in the summer. As you’ll no doubt want to talk about the heat with work colleagues and friends, here is some hot German terminology and expressions about the heat that you’ll want to use.
First things first
You want to say that it’s hot outside and you feel the heat: Mir ist heiss. (It’s hot. / Literally: it’s hot to me.) a direct translation of I am hot. (Ich bin heiss.) pretty much means you’re in the mood for love (horny) or that you think you’re hot (attractive). Learn more about Dative German expressions here.
Heiss is an adjective
One of the things I often hear students saying is: Das ist sehr heisse. or Mir ist heisse. The error is the e on the end of heiss. Here heiss is not coming before a noun, so it’s not attributive and therefore does not take any ending. leave it as heiss. Learn more about adjectives in German here.
With heiss being an adjective it is also important to note that it has the following four connotations:
1. von sehr hoher Temperatur, wärmer als warm (having a high temperature)
2. in aufregender/entscheidender Phase befindlich (to be in a critical / delicate phase)
3. sexuell aufreizend oder erregt; geil (sexually provocative/excited; horny)
4. läufig (bei Hunden), paarungsbereit, rollig bei Katzen (in heat (for dogs), ready to mate)
Don’t forget the comparative and the superlative forms: heiss –> heisser –> am heissesten
The German word for heat / hotness
Just like English has the words “hot” and “heat”, German has two words as well: “heiss” and “die Hitze“.
- Mir ist zu heiss. Bei dieser Hitze kann man nicht arbeiten! (I’m too hot. You can’t work in such heat!)
Here are some great German compound words to use for talking about the heat.
- die Affenhitze –> awful heat / baking heat / real scorcher
- Gestern war eine Affentize. (Yesterday was a scorcher.)
- die Tropenhitze –> tropical heat
- Tropenhitze bringt bis zu 38 Grad. (Tropical heat sends temperatures soaring to 38 degrees.)
- die Bullenhitze –> sweltering heat / scorching heat
- Ein Rekordfest trotz der Bullenhitze (A record festival despite the sweltering heat.)
- die Gluthitze –> blazing heat / boiling heat / sweltering heat
- Es herrschte eine Gluthitze. (It was boiling hot.)
- die Sommerhitze –> summer heat
- Sommerhitze im Büro – Hinweise und Tipps für die heissen Tage. (Summer heat in the office – references and tips for the hot days.)
If you’re wondering why there is an Affenhitze (monkey heat) and a Bullenhitze (bull heat), it’s because in German animals like Schwein (pig) are often used to build superlatives i.e. Schweineteuer (pig expensive). Just think of these meaning “crazy”.
Here’s one last expression with Hitze you might want to learn: In der Hitze des Gefechts. (In the heat of the moment.)
The German Verb for to heat
When you want to talk about heating, the German verb is heizen. This is probably not something you want to do in the summer, but in the winter you might.
Perfekt + haben
Hitzewelle in Berlin
Listen to what people in Berlin have to say about the heat.