I am assuming l(i)ebe means both love and live. I want to make sure so that I don't misuse it. I can find book titles that support my assumption, but don't want to be wrong.

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    Your assumption is correct. Note that love (Liebe) is a noun and live (lebe) is the imperative of the verb.
    – Jan
    Oct 15, 2015 at 16:10
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    @Jan love and liebe could also be the imperative, first person singular.
    – Deve
    Oct 15, 2015 at 16:15
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    @Deve Correct, I totally overlooked that. Maybe I need more chocolate or tea … Lebe can also be 1st singular or subjunctive I. Liebe can also be subjunctive I. I might actually delete my above comment xD
    – Jan
    Oct 15, 2015 at 16:19
  • How did "slang" make it into your tags? :)
    – Gerhard
    Oct 15, 2015 at 16:30
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    I made exactly the same mistake as @Carstens : I assumed you were talking about two separate words, not one word including brackets. Maybe you could add that this is about the use of brackets within words for puns - so it can be found more easily.
    – Gerhard
    Oct 15, 2015 at 18:02

2 Answers 2


The construction is a rather common type of punning in German. Take two similar sounding words that work in similar contexts and ideally only differ in one letter.

  • Ich l(i)ebe → Ich lebe or ich liebe, I live or I love
  • Wa(h)re Liebe → (Die) Ware Liebe or (die) wahre Liebe, the product ‘love’ or true love a former German TV show
  • Ein B(r)uch → ein Buch or ein Bruch, a book or a crack — I have no idea where this would be used, but I was struggling for examples.

Of course you can do this in English to:

  • A black (k)night.

You seem to assume that liebe and lebe are somehow the same word. They are not. They are forms of the two verbs lieben (to love) and leben (to live).

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    I think the OP is referring to the wordplay, i.e. to the usage including parantheses.
    – Deve
    Oct 15, 2015 at 16:50
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    @Deve. Oh, I see. So the "slang" part is that German dictionaries do not contain words including parentheses but list each word on its own. Well, that makes sense. Kind of.
    – Carsten S
    Oct 15, 2015 at 17:04

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