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What is the correct verb to pair with „Deodorant“ or „Deo“? By way of comparison, in (American) English, we most often put on deodorant or more rarely apply, but use seems a little awkward to me.

What is the correct verb in German? Benutzen? Anwenden?

Relatedly: do you need to use the definite article when talking about deodorant, or would it be considered a verbal complement (with no article)?

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Ich benutze (das) Deodorant.

That would be the formally correct way to say that you use the "Deodorant".

But you could also use auftragen:

Ich trage (das) Deo auf.

That is correct as well, but from my experience the first one is more common.

Furthermore, "Deodorant" was also turned into a verb by itself:

Ich deodoriere mich.

Which means "I use the Deodorant on myself". I'm not sure if that's in a dictionary, but it's used commonly.

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    Never ever heard deodoriere, but dictionaries list that word. – Em1 Jul 5 '16 at 13:33
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    auftragen is more likely if the deodorant is applied with a roll-on rather than as spray, though. Also, verwenden, benutzen, nehmen or applizieren are not unheard of either. – Crissov Jul 5 '16 at 20:34
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    PS: sich mit Deo einsprühen / einnebeln / duschen or sich Deo unter die Achseln / Arme schmieren / reiben / sprühen. – Crissov Jul 5 '16 at 20:45
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In informal situations I ususally say:

Ich brauch noch Deo.

or

Ich muss mich noch deoen.

but this is colloquial and not correct.

More common is

"ein Deo benutzen"

and more formal is

"ein Deo auftragen".

There are also some more terms in use

sich (mit Deo) einsprühen - Ich sprühe mich (mit Deo) ein.

In the example above context matters. Without mentioning "Deo" it could also be a repellent or sunshield. It implies an aerosol is in use. The following example doesn't imply what type of deo is meant:

sich (mit Deo) beduften - Ich bedufte mich (mit Deo).

The construction "ein Deo anwenden" is not wrong but of uncommon use (at least in Northern parts of Germany).

  • So you use the indefinite article? Fascinating. Does "ein Deo" refer to a stick of deodorant, or the application of deodorant? – HardlyKnowEm Jul 5 '16 at 10:01
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    I've never heard "Ich muss mich noch deoen." before. Sounds funny – Iris Jul 5 '16 at 10:02
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    "ein Deo" is simply a deodorant, no matter if stick or aerosol. In most cases it is not clear or won't matter what specific odour or brand is meant. "Das Deo" is a specific deo - my deo or that one smelling of flowers or that specific Calvin Klein Deo. usually context and setting give a hint if a deo or that deo is meant ;) – user22338 Jul 5 '16 at 10:53
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    @iris "deoen" is in no way official language. it is kinda community slang but yes, it's short and funny so we use it :-D – user22338 Jul 5 '16 at 10:55
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    It should be noted that Ich brauch noch Deo simply means that you thing you need to use some deodorant, probably because one can smell it's necessary :-) The question, however, is how to say you're currently applying it. – Thorsten Dittmar Jul 5 '16 at 11:44
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In case you want to say what you do in general you would say

Ich nehme (ein) Deo.

or

Ich benutze (ein) Deo.

That's very common, especially when replying to "What do you do to prevent body odor?" -- "Ich nehme (ein) Deo.".

There's also a difference between "Ich nehme/benutze Deo" and "Ich nehme/benutze das Deo".

  • "Ich nehme/benutze (ein) Deo" means: in general, as a habit, as opposed to tacking Little Trees to my armpits

  • "Ich nehme/benutze das Deo" means: I use that particular bottle/can/brand. It's only used when you can choose between two or more and pick one of them.

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