I learned that "dümpeln" or "dahindümpeln" comes from low German "dümpelen" where in the sailors language it means that a boat is bobbing around not moving forward. Today it may also be used when work does not proceed in the desired speed

Dieses Projekt dümpelt seit Monaten so dahin.

Is there still a regional difference in the usage of this word? Is it also used (or understood) in southern regions of Germany, in Switzerland, or in Austria?

3 Answers 3


It is understood and used in Austria in the metaphoric sence. I would not have suspected that it is a Northern German word and I did not know the origin.

  • Same for me. I'm from south-west Germany (Black Forest, approx 30km to Switzerland).
    – knut
    Nov 1, 2011 at 16:32
  • It i used an understood also here near Frankfurt (Main).
    – 0x6d64
    Nov 2, 2011 at 6:32
  • Well understood here, where the Danube river crosses the Bavaria/Baden-Württemberg border.
    – Hackworth
    Nov 2, 2011 at 11:16
  • I am living in Austria (born 1965 in Graz, living in Vienna since 1997) and this word is wellknown here. It is used in its original meaning (Lisa dümpelt seit einer Stunde in der Badewanne.) as well as metaphoric (Dieses Projekt dümpelt nun schein weit drei Monaten vor sich hin.). Apr 15, 2012 at 10:20

Understood in Bavaria as well - including the nautic origin... as far as I'm aware, even this far from the coast it is primarily used with smaller boats when they move slowly or not at all. Pretty common as a metaphor, which always conjures up the mental image of small craft.


In Switzerland it's also understood.

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