I am a non-German-speaking programmer writing software that interfaces with a database that uses German field names. There are a number of these fields that are prefixed with KZ_.

The only translation I can find when I look it up is Konzentrationslager, but given the context, this doesn't make sense.

Here is a subset of fields containing KZ if it helps:

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    Did you ask the people who wrote the code? – Robert Oct 9 '14 at 22:29

I would actually rather translate it to Kennziffer which would mean indicator or index number in English. Especially with the examples you mentioned, Kennzeichen doesn't make any sense to me – even though the actual meanings are pretty close.

So BEST_KZ for example would probably stand for "Bestell-Kennziffer" and would then be a running number identifying a single order.

If those fields you listed were named in English I would expect them to have an _ID added – like ORDER_ID for BEST_KZ, for example.

See also http://www.dict.cc/?s=kennziffer

Update: Just to give an impression of some "Kennziffern" in their bureaucratic habitat:

a) some job descriptions at University of the Arts in Berlin:

  • "Fakultät Gestaltung | Fakultätsverwaltung | Kennziffer 2/1441/14 "
  • "Zentrale Universitätsverwaltung | Referat für Studienangelegenheiten | Kennziffer 1440/14"

b) a form that enables you to ask for a "Kennziffer" ("Antrag auf Erteilung/Änderung einer Kennziffer für Antragsteller") at justiz.bayern.de – here's the PDF (check page 2!)

…but of course it could also mean "Kennzahl" or "Kennzeichen" or "Kurzzeichen" or whatever the engineer/programmer had in mind. The meaning in each of these is very similar –– however being a German part-time programmer myself I have to point out that I actually find the short form "_KZ" quite disturbing and personally would never ever use it – but instead always stick to "_ID".

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  • Eine Ziffer ist ein (einzelnes!) Zeichen aus der Menge {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9}. Es gibt also genau zehn verschiedene Ziffern. Daher kann ein Feld, dass korrekterweise als »Kennziffer« bezeichnet werden darf, nur einen dieser zehn verschiedenen Werte annehmen. Wenn ein Feld länger als 1 Byte ist oder andere Zeichen als diese zehn Ziffern enthalten darf, dann ist »Kennziffer« eine unzulässige Bezeichnung. »Kennzeichen« ist passender. – Hubert Schölnast Oct 10 '14 at 17:07
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    @HubertSchölnast I think you are underestimating the liberties bureaucrats take with language. Google "Kennziffer" and (past the dictionary results) you will find that, for example in Gerichtsdeutsch, a Kennziffer can have arbitrary many, erm, Ziffern. – arne.b Oct 10 '14 at 18:04
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    @HubertSchölnast Wenn man es etymologisch auf die Spitze treibt, stammt Ziffer von cifra und das bezeichnet ausschließlich die Null :) – Hagen von Eitzen Oct 10 '14 at 21:30
  • @HagenvonEitzen: eigentlich von صفر ṣifr (Null) – Walter Tross Oct 11 '14 at 13:26
  • Statt Kenziffer kann genauso gut Kennzshl gelten. Aber darüber sollte die Programmbeschreibung Auskunft geben. – harper Oct 11 '14 at 15:25

In a programming context, this most likely stands for Kennzeichen, which translates to flag, feature, or characteristic.

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  • While Kennzeichen technically means all these things, it makes less sense than Kennziffer in most fields given above. I also think the word is most often used to mean (car) number plate (also KFZ-Kennzeichen). – arne.b Oct 10 '14 at 18:17

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