My son's birthday is next week. For a gift, I bought a 150-year-old German drinking glass with a hand-painted image of a man bowling, and an inscription below. It reads:

"Gut Holz ein Hoch dem Kegelsport, Halt ihn, zum Wohl sei unser Wort!"

I believe it is a "wish to have a good game", and a "toast or cheers to the high bowler." The last part seems to be about "holding or keeping him, and maybe something about being good as our word." It is very confusing to someone who doesn't speak German. Could someone please translate?

  • 3
    Having someone to send you the answer is IMO not the way, this forum is meant to be used. Aug 1, 2014 at 13:40
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    – tohuwawohu
    Aug 1, 2014 at 14:07
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    @AndroidRookie Even though he's new to the site, he has shown some effort and it's a tough phrase, as can be seen from your answer.
    – user6191
    Aug 1, 2014 at 14:14
  • @Carlster I totally agree, I only meant that he should (in future) leave out thing like "send it to ...". the question itself is IMO totally fine, I even upvoted it Aug 2, 2014 at 11:46
  • @AndroidRookie I'm so sorry, that was edited out before I came here!
    – user6191
    Aug 2, 2014 at 12:10

2 Answers 2


First of all, let me mention that there are some differences between modern "bowling" and "Kegeln" (e.g. number of pins), but in the following I will use the translation "bowling" for "Kegeln". Maybe a more appropriate is "skittles" or "ninepins" according to dict.leo.org.

Gut Holz

Literally "good wood". "Holz" is a bowling term for the pins. "Gut Holz" is a bowlers greeting. It uses the non-inflected version of the adjective "gut". One would expect an inflected form ("Gutes Holz") but non-inflected forms are sometimes found in idiomatic expressions.

Ein Hoch dem Kegelsport

"Hoch" literally means "high". As a noun it means "a cheer", "cheers". The dative-construction "dem Kegelsport" can be translated as "to bowling sports".

Halt ihn!

Literally "hold it" (ihn=male=der Kegelsport; it=neuter=bowling sports); the meaning is "preserve/conserve bowling".

Zum Wohle sei unser Wort

"Zum Wohle" literally means "to/for the good"; it is a drinking toast like "Cheers!". "sei unser Wort" is "Konjunktiv I" and can be translated as "be our word". The whole phrase: "Our word be for the good."

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    The same "gut" can be found in "auf gut Glück", "gut Ding will Weile haben" and "gut Teil". +1.
    – user6191
    Aug 1, 2014 at 14:06
  • Although the "gut" in "gut Teil" is not nearly as idiomatic.
    – user6191
    Aug 1, 2014 at 14:18
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    Maybe "Halt ihn!" doesn't relate to bowling but rather to the glass (ihn = den Bierkrug) itself?
    – tohuwawohu
    Aug 1, 2014 at 15:54
  • That's possible; but I guess it is more likely that the pronoun referes to something mentioned afore. Additionally, I would expect a "hoch", if the pronoun did reference to the glass/jug.
    – Chris
    Aug 1, 2014 at 16:06

I would say it means something along these lines:

"Cheers to bowling, preserve it, our word for its good"

But I have no clue on the

"Gut Holz"

part. It means something like "Good Wood", but its likely to be an idiomatic expression.

  • 2
    "Gut Holz" is a common greeting in bowling. It means "good game" or "good luck". It is often used before the game starts as a greeting to welcome the arriving players.
    – Polygnome
    Aug 6, 2014 at 9:45
  • Oh, and the "Holz" in that expression refers to the bowling pin.
    – Polygnome
    Aug 8, 2014 at 10:06

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