From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Beim Heurigen in Grinzing is a typical scene of Gemütlichkeit, painting by Rudolf Alfred Höger (1900).
Interior of the Café Hawelka with plush furniture and muted colours, serving cake and coffee, is a typical example of Gemütlichkeit.
A cosy Stube normally has many wooden elements, giving a feeling of warmth and comfort (inside of Schreiberhaus in Neustift am Walde, Vienna).
Hofbräukeller garden in Munich, a typical German beergarden scene, permeated by Gemütlichkeit

Gemütlichkeit (German pronunciation: [ɡəˈmyːtlɪçkaɪt] ) is a German-language word used to convey the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness,[1] and good cheer. Other qualities encompassed by the term include cosiness, peace of mind, and a sense of belonging and well-being springing from social acceptance. The adjective "gemütlich" is translated as "cosy" so "Gemütlichkeit" could be simply translated as "cosiness".

History and etymology[edit]

"Gemütlichkeit" derives from gemütlich, the adjective of Gemüt, which means "heart, mind, temper, feeling" expressed by (and cognate with) English mood. The German abstract noun Gemütlichkeit has been adopted into English.[2] The current meaning of the word derives from its use in the Biedermeier period. By the second half of the 19th century, it also became associated with a set of traits supposedly unique to the Austrian culture.

The word can be used in descriptions of holidays.[3] In the 1973 English contract law case Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd, a holidaymaker sued after not receiving the Gemütlichkeit promised by the promotional literature for a package holiday to the Swiss Alps.

The communal connotations of Gemütlichkeit are also emphasized in some uses of the term. For example, one academic described it as a tradition of "public festivity" (in the form of a "mixture of music, food, and drink"), which "promote[d] community solidarity."[4]

Gemütlichkeit has been appropriated at least once to describe the tenor of an economic era rather than spirit of a social gathering. In analyzing the "inflation dampening effects of globalization" an American professor wrote that certain U.S. economic trends could "spell an end of the Gemütlichkeit — a situation in which cheap labor and money abroad as well as ever-increasing productivity at home had permitted an uninterrupted spell of controlled growth in overall prices".[5]

Similar words in other languages[edit]

English has no direct translation for gemütlich or Gemütlichkeit. Cosy captures an element of it but crucially lacks those of friendliness and belonging.[citation needed] Another possible translation could be comfort.[citation needed]

The Swedish-language equivalent is gemytlig, deriving directly from the German word and sharing its meaning. But the word "mysig" has identical connotations to danish "hygge."

Danish also has gemytlig[6] [ke̝ˈmytli] but uses hygge [ˈhykə] (hyggelig as an adjective) instead.[7] In Norwegian the word is rendered "gemyttlig", but words such as "hyggelig" and "koselig" which means cosy, comfortable, nice, or pleasant, are analogues.

The Dutch equivalent gezelligheid, derived from the adjective gezellig, has broader social connotations than the German Gemütlichkeit and can be more accurately compared to the Danish term hygge.

In Bulgarian and Russian, уют ([oˈjut] and [ʊˈjut], respectively) means cosiness, comfort, contentment, ease, and carries almost identical connotations to the German word.

The Romance languages with Latin roots do not have a single term expressing the many connotations of Gemütlichkeit.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Gemütlichkeit". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2023-10-18.
  2. ^ Stevenson, Angus, ed. (2010). Oxford Dictionary of English (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Benjamin Lytal (2004-12-01). "Recent Fiction". The New York Sun. Archived from the original on 2009-08-12. Retrieved 2007-11-16. Ms. Bielski's novel [The Year is '42] is quite good, a quick read that seems in sync with holiday Gemutlichkeit and holiday sadness.
  4. ^ John Fairfield (2006-10-05). Gemutlichkeit in Harlem: Modern Liberalism and the City. Annual meeting of the American Studies Association, Oct 12, 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  5. ^ Michael Reksulak (2007-06-09). "Rising costs of necessities signal an end of Gemütlichkeit". Savannah Morning News. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
  6. ^ "Gemytlig". den Danske Ordbog. Retrieved 2023-10-18.
  7. ^ "Enjoying Winter with the Danish Concept of 'Hygge'". Iowa Public Radio. 2014-01-13. Retrieved 2014-02-07.

External links[edit]