Reading some user manuals in German, I sometimes encounter the word Taste and sometimes Taster. Is there any difference to a native German speaker?

  • A google search for image Taster provides are surprisingly detailed idea, what Taster means. I guess, the number of cases where Taste could also be considered is very small.
    – guidot
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


There actually is a difference:

Taste can be used for more or less anything that is operated by a finger press, e.g

  • Piano key
  • (mechanical) typewriter key
  • key connected to a momentary electrical switch (on a computer keyboard, for example)

while Taster works for the momentary electrical switch only and is typically used for single switches (while the switches inside your computer keyboard might be single "Taster" in an electrical sense, the keys are referred to as "Tasten" in their mechanical sense).

So even if the two words are very similar, Taste would normally translate to "key" in English, while Taster typically translates to "(momentary) switch"

Those were the translations in terms of day-to-day usage. Translations for Taster can differ on whether the word is used as a technical term in mechanical or electrical context - Taster is also often used in mechanical engineering for instruments that "feel" a specific measure - Innentaster is the German technical term for "inside caliper".

  • According to Wikipedia, they ARE the same: de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taste Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 14:12
  • 8
    According to me, they aren't ;) - I have never heard of "Klaviertaster" - But there is lots of "Klaviertasten" on a Piano.
    – tofro
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 14:17
  • I think, "pressed by a finger" is the most important difference. See also the meanings in Duden: duden.de/rechtschreibung/Taster and duden.de/rechtschreibung/Taste
    – Iris
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 14:53
  • So, according to the written answer I conclude that in terms of electrical devices "Taster" is an electric device which connects wires and "Taste" is a cap on a top of this device visible and touchable by an end user (an "user interface" for Taster). But this cap could be not only on a top of an electric switch, but also on a top of mechanical lever etc. Right?
    – Paul
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 15:50
  • 1
    "Taster" in the electrical context is likely an abbreviation of "Tastschalter". Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 14:51

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