Bisexual German Word of the Week: Zeh/Zehe

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Recently I broke one of my goddamn  toes, and while waiting to have it X-rayed, I did some research on exactly what sort of word 'toe' is in German.

What I found shocked and titillated me. Apparently the word 'toe' bats on both sides of the plate, if you know what I mean. The Oxford/Duden has an entry not only for Der Zeh (masculine) but also Die Zehe (feminine). There's apparently no difference in meaning. Every time I talked about this particular part of my body, someone corrected me, saying "no, it's feminine!" or "wait, I think 'Zeh' is masculine." Being a uniter, not a divider, I was able to assure them that they were both right.

If only the rest of German nouns were so 'easy'…

8 thoughts on “Bisexual German Word of the Week: Zeh/Zehe

  1. I just wondered. For garlic clove we say in German “die Knoblauchzehe”, meaning “garlic toe”, which I find both titillating and figuratively accurate.
    But I got into thinking. In almost any case regarding the toes, you can say both “der Zeh” and “die Zehe” – except for Knoblauchzehe. I have never heard someone say “der Knoblauchzeh”. I did not find it on the German Wiktionary site or http://www.duden.de either. Why is that?

    > is not “Die Zehe” plural?!?

    “Die Zehen” is the plural.

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  2. I just wondered. For garlic clove we say in German “die Knoblauchzehe”, meaning “garlic toe”, which I find both titillating and figuratively accurate.
    But I got into thinking. In almost any case regarding the toes, you can say both “der Zeh” and “die Zehe” – except for Knoblauchzehe. I have never heard someone say “der Knoblauchzeh”. I did not find it on the German Wiktionary site or http://www.duden.de either. Why is that?

    > is not “Die Zehe” plural?!?

    “Die Zehen” is the plural.

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  3. What we (=Germans) have too much of, the Polish don’t even need at all. A former co-worker who was quite new from Poland in Germany went to see a doctor because of his broken toe. He asked the medic to check his “foot-finger” – as this was his word-by-word translation from Polish to German …

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  4. With dialects there are several more “bisexual” words:

    Usually it’s die Butter (feminine) but Swabians say der Butter (masculine).

    Die Unterbrechung (feminine) is der Unterbruch (masculine) in Switzerland (my favourite). Also das Tunnell (neutr.) instead of der Tunnel (masculine).

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