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My dictionary translates "curious (inquisitive)" to "neugierig". There are two kinds of inquisitive curiosity, though: the temporary, pressing desire to find something out, and the long-term characteristic to seek knowledge.

Does "neugierig" fit as a translation in both of the following examples?

Please tell me! I'm so curious.

Bob has been reading Wikipedia for hours. He's a very curious boy.

Which kind of curiosity is understood in this example?

-- Ich habe dir ein Phykologiebuch gekauft.
-- Was für ein Buch? Ich bin so neugierig!

  • Danke, @bernd und @pekka. – Tim Jun 10 '11 at 13:48
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    Do you study biologie? If not, you rarely know the word Phykologie and speak of ein Buch über Algen. I had to look it up. de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phykologie – bernd_k Jun 10 '11 at 13:58
  • Do you mean the "Was für ein Buch" in the sense "I have no idea what Phykologie is"? Then to me, "Ich bin so neugierig" sounds a bit awkward; I'd rather say "Jetzt bin ich aber neugierig". – Hendrik Vogt Jun 10 '11 at 14:00
  • @bernd: I think this is by intention; see my previous comment :-) – Hendrik Vogt Jun 10 '11 at 14:01
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    When speaking, make sure you spell Phykologie. ;-) – splattne Jun 10 '11 at 14:20
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Does "neugierig" fit as a translation in both of the following examples?

It does. Leo's translations have the full bandwidth:

  • curious adj.
  • inquiring esp AE / enquiring esp BE adj.
  • inquisitive adj.
  • nosy also: nosey adj.
  • prying adj.
  • snoopy adj.

"Neugierig" fits for all of these. In some contexts, it can carry a slightly negative connotation (when used like "nosey"/"prying"), but it doesn't by default.

The most fitting translation for "inquisitive" (which is more of a life-long characteristic) is "wissbegierig" (Literally, "greedy/eager for knowledge", but with no negative connotation at all.)

  • Thanks. In the latter example, is it understood that the speaker is curious about the book or curious about things in general? – Tim Jun 10 '11 at 13:42
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    @Tim it is crystal clear that the speaker is curious about the book, like in the english example. – Pekka 웃 Jun 10 '11 at 13:42
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    +1 for wissbegierig. – Hendrik Vogt Jun 10 '11 at 13:42
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    Ein Alternative ist auch wissensdurstig – Takkat Jun 10 '11 at 14:35
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It is used for both:

As a temporary attitude towards a specific thing/event:

Die ganze, wochenlange Geheimnistuerei hat mich neugierig gemacht.

As a personality trait:

Er war immer schon ein neugieriger Mensch.

The personality trait 'openness' of the so called big 5 includes to a certain extent curiosity. The big 5 are known to be very stable personality factors (traits).

2

"Neugierig," unlike many other adjectives, is not "time limited." Instead, it's strictly "qualitative." That means in can be used to refer either a temporary or lifelong want.

It is often translated as "curious," but it's literal meaning is "eager for the new."

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