Not sure if I misheard, but I overheard a woman say 'Lass' in the supermarket the other day in an angry way. I looked it up and it seems to come from the verb lassen but so far I've only seen examples of lass used in combination with another word such as in lass mal

Sorry if it's a very green question but I'm just starting out. What could it have meant if it was indeed used on its own?

3 Answers 3


Lass can be used alone, however Ludi is right in noticing that it is uncommon in many areas where German is spoken.

The most accepted way to use it would be as a command to a dog. They should be short, clear, sternly speakable and ideally strechable, so during teaching you can strech it to teach and later you can say it quickly, quietly and sternly. If I were to guess, a dog would have to interpret it as leave it there, but it’s not one of those commands that a German expects a dog to know.

In the same way I can imagine a parent telling her child for the fifteenth time while still remaining calm-ish that the child is supposed to leave the box of chocolates on the shelf because the parent isn’t going to buy them anyway. The first fourteen would have been any combination of ‘Lass das mal liegen’, ‘Nein, das kaufen wir nicht’, ‘Legs wieder rein’, ‘Lass das!’ and many similar ones, getting shorter every time. This is turning into psychologising, but maybe people who have dogs would be more inclined to use it?


Lass alone can be used in football. The typical situation for this is that the ball is coming to one of your fellow players and you would like him to let the ball go through to you. By the way, the referees in youth-level matches award a free-kick to the other team for calling out lass, and teams usually agree on another short word such as Leo to be used for the same purpose.

  • Awarding a free kick for something the players say? Is that even allowed according to the rules? Psychological tactics should be allowed and especially youth teams that don’t change players all the time should be capable of recognising their companions’ voices. Which area did you see that happening in?
    – Jan
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 12:22
  • Well, it happened when I was playing in the youth teams of VfB Hilden during my school time. I am not saying I agree with this, indeed, I do not, but this was what Deutscher Fußball Bund prescribed at that time. Totally stupid, of course. Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 15:30

I agree with you. We don't typically use "Lass" alone. We say

Lass es.

Lass das!

Lass mal.

All of these convey the meaning of "don't do it". The last one is much more friendly and also applies to situations where we want to reject a positive offer:

Ich geb einen aus!

Lass mal, ich bin dran!

The second one has the most scolding undertones. Mothers use it quite a lot scolding infants.

We have some more forms:

Lass es bleiben!

Lass es sein.

Personally, I use the first of them to discourage actions in the future:

ich wollte mir Aktien kaufen!

Lass es bleiben, das hat schon manchen ruiniert!

EDIT: I was unsure whether to add it, because I heard it relatively recently, extremely seldom and in a peculiar, very colloquial context, but I can confirm that I have heard

"Lass mal stecken"

from a native speaker.

Using "lass" on its own may indicate hasty speech or a non native speaker.


I agree that "Lass" alone sounds acceptable when directed at a dog. That still doesn't render it idiomatic German. Furthermore, would never use it on a child. The association would be treating it like a dog!

There are plenty of things you can say to a dog which are not standard German. For example "Leg!", when you wish it to lay down something. However, even after this experience, I shall never include such language in my explanation, if it is not explicitly requested.

I can see "Lass" working with a dog, but I would never use it myself. "Halt", "Sitz","Stop", all make natural choices, without keeping me waiting for the end of the sentence.

In response to the down votes, I want to make it a little clearer, why it sounds unnatural and incomplete to me. If I say:

Manfred kommt,

nobody is left left waiting for a completion. Hence, "komm!" is absolutely natural.

On the other hand, if I say:

Manfred lässt,

nobody will be able to point to any meaning. That does not mean that a German native speaker could fail to understand that "lass!" meant "lass es". It just means, that it is a similar class of "sentence" as

Mama mamm, mamm!

  • That's really helpful, thanks a lot. What do lass es and lass das mean? Something like 'Come on' or 'stop' or 'no way' meant in a negative way?
    – cheznead
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 23:45
  • Literally let (it be).
    – Ingmar
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 5:54
  • 2
    But not literally exactly what you said: Stop, Don't. We sometimes do say lass alone, but it is very colloquial: Soll ich dir das geben? - Nee, lass. Furthermore, Ludi forgot to mention the phrase Lass stecken, used mostly about money: Was schulde ich dir für den Kaffee? - Ach nichts, lass stecken.
    – Liglo App
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 7:33
  • 1
    @BarthZalewski right! I was unsure whether or not to add it. I heard it first less than ten years ago and in strange contexts
    – Ludi
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 8:11
  • 3
    I disagree with the second sentence. "Lass" alone in speech is quite normal for me (native speaker, Berlin)
    – Emanuel
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 9:16

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