In vollen Zügen genießen

One of my friends bought me a souvenir one one of his trips to Germany. It is a beer mug from Bayerischer Bahnhof, a restaurant and brewery at the Leipzig Bayerischer Bahnhof. The mug carries the brewery's slogan In vollen Zügen genießen, which is a German idiom meaning "to enjoy to the fullest." Literally, "Das Leben in vollen Zügen genießen" means "to enjoy life in full gulps", the idea being that instead of sipping your way through life, you're taking huge gulps of it.

The slogan is a pun, though, for the Bayerischer Bahnhof, because the word Zug also means train. They come from the root ziehen which means "to pull". (Compare the English word draught, which has a similar duality.)

Therefore, the saying "Das Leben in vollen Zügen genießen" could also be interpreted as saying "Enjoy life in crowded trains."

Which is why it's the slogan of a brewery in a train station.

Comments (13)
  1. Brian_EE says:

    Sounds like a good excuse to grab the mug and take a long weekend plane trip to Germany, where you spend the weekend repeatedly filling and emptying the mug at that very brewery.

  2. Joshua says:

    Advertisers get creative. News at 11.

  3. Horst Kiehl says:

    Es lagen zwei Greise auf Rügen

    des Nachts in den letzten Zügen.

    In den ersten Zügen

    konnt' keiner liegen –

    die halten gar nicht auf Rügen.

    (Heard on the German TV show "Genial daneben", SAT.1, autumn 2008)

  4. Ben says:

    Note that "Zug" is among the most important German words if you believe Mark Twains essay about this crude language. I recommend that essay to everyone.

  5. creaothceann says:

    I always thought the idiom was talking about smoking.

  6. Steve D says:

    Ah! Of course Oktoberfest has started.  Hence the timing of this post. (Bonus chatter: Oktoberfest starts in September but does culminate at the last weekend in October – why wait any longer?).

  7. JM says:

    @creaothceann: although it's nowadays used for cigarettes too, the word in its current meaning goes back to at least the 13th century.

    @Ben: Twain might have been interested to know the word existed in Old English (no doubt a similarly crude language) as "tyge", from which we get "tug". Interestingly, in English you can still tug on your cigarette, but not on your beer mug — in German (and Dutch) the word has come to be used for "gulp" too, but in English it's stayed closer to its roots.

  8. Jonathan O'Connor says:

    Raymond, the next time you are in Germany take the train to Leipzig. It's my favourite Hauptbahnhof. Fabulous old building, modernised with a 3-story shopping center.

    The new berlin Hauptbahnhof is also not bad.

  9. Chimik says:


    you're right, it can mean smoking as well.

    And it is used ironically for travelling in crowded trains ;-)

  10. Engywuck says:

    Oktoberfest culminates at *first* weekend in october. Except if it's on 1st or 2nd, then it culminates at the 3rd (Tag der deutschen Einheit (German Unity Day), a national holiday).

    The reason why it starts in september is easy: in the beginning it lasted only one or a few days, and when they extended they extended in the direction of (usually) better weather :-)

  11. Horst Kiehl says:

    Today, smoking isn't allowed anymore in German trains. In the old days, you could sit in a crowded smokers compartment and have both!

  12. j b says:

    @JM: We have the same idiom in Norwegian as well, but the words are somewhat different, "å nyte i fulle drag" – and you cannot take a "drag" from your beer mug, but you *can* from your cigarette! Literally, "drag" means pull, like pulling fresh air …or smoke… into your lungs.

    And then, Zug -> tyge -> tug … To "tygge" in Norwegian is to chew. Maybe that word has the same root as the German/Dutch word for "gulp"? Fascinating. If I had known better I should have been working with natural languges, not programming languages.

  13. MaxK says:

    It can also mean "Enjoy living in crowded trains".

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