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This is a light-hearted question. I've had two teenage exchange students, one from Berlin and one from Mönchengladbach, and they both insist that the German word "toast" means both a slice of bread and toast (in the English sense meaning "toasted bread").

They further say that if you want to specify that you want soft bread you have to specify "ungetoastetes Toast", and that "toast" normally means toasted bread, not soft bread.

I speak German at the A2/B1 level and enjoyed constantly asking for "ungetoastetes Toast" -- it was a fun running joke.

My question is, were they pulling my leg or is this use of "Toast" accurate?

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    How about "Weißbrot"? Plain and simple. – tofro Aug 7 '16 at 18:00
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    Most Germans would never consider eating the kind of white tasteless cotton-wool stuff that passes for bread in England unless it was toasted. Therefore it's reasonable to refer to such bread as toast-bread, or simply toast for short. – Michael Kay Aug 7 '16 at 20:04
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    By the way, wouldn't it be "ungetoastetes toast" instead of "ungetoastet toast"? – Zaibis Aug 8 '16 at 6:38
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    @Josef: There are enough regions in Germany where people would say "das Toast", not "der Toast". So "ungetoastates Toast" is perfectly fine... – Gerhard Aug 8 '16 at 10:15
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    There are also regions in Germany where people would say "Gib mich mal das Toast rüber hier!". This doesn't make it correct. – Josef Aug 8 '16 at 10:46
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Indeed we refer to the sliced white bread that is sold in supermarkets as Toastbrot or short Toast, even before it has been toasted. That is what it is for, after all. If you did not want to toast it, you would buy proper bread. So if you want to point out that it has not yet been toasted, you would have to call it untoasted, ungetoastet. (Note that to toast has long enough been in the German language as toasten that we do not have a problem with inflecting it in a German way.)

Of course there are many other types of bread in Germany (including Weißbrot, even though that is more typical of our neighbours in the west), and none of them are referred to as Toast. It may just be that all of the soft bread at your house looked like Toast to your German guests.

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    If you did not want to toast it, you would buy proper bread — I think many people buy sliced bread and not toast it. Do Germans think this is not proper? – TranslucentCloud Aug 8 '16 at 14:53
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    @TranslucentCloud you would buy different sliced bread in that case; if you Toastbrot you make it with different recipe so it's better for toasting but inferior for other uses. – Peteris Aug 8 '16 at 14:55
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    @TranslucentCloud, what Peteria says. I buy sliced bread, even though I think that's lazy, but (except for my morning toast, of course) that would be darker bread. Btw, many Germans find it difficult to find bread that they like when they are in the US. I have a friend who in the US started to bake his own bread. – Carsten S Aug 8 '16 at 16:53
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    Weißbrot gibt es auch bei den östlichen Nachbarn, und zwar in Brotform, nicht in der Kastenform von Toastbrot, der Baguette- oder Fluteform und auch nicht in der flachen Pideform, obwohl es das auch geben mag. Btw.: Wenn man sagt "Bring vom Supermarkt noch ein Toastbrot mit" erwartet auch jeder, dass das ungetoastet ist, ohne dass es dazugesagt werden muss. Essen kann man es ungetoastet gar nicht, weil es beim Versuch es mit Butter zu betreichen zerreißt. Vielleicht essen die Amis die Butter 5° wärmer? – user unknown Aug 9 '16 at 4:00
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    Moreover, it is absolutely correct to say (at the table): "Ich esse den Toast heute ungetoastet." (while nearly impossible to put butter on it), but nobody would order "ungetoasteten Toast" in a shop of course (because this is clear- they sell no "toasted toast" :-) ) – Philm Mar 31 '17 at 1:57
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Since "This is a light-hearted question", I need to warn you:

If you're asking for an "ungetoasteter Toast" you need to be careful about the proper pronounciation of the German "u". If you pronounce it like the "u" in English "untoasted", you'll still get a lightly toasted toast, because your German host will make you an "angetoasteten toast", which was started to be toasted but not quite finished. A German host producing a properly "angetoasteten" toast will make sure, there's still lots of white and just some yellow-golden tan about the rim of the toast. The proper technique is to toast mere seconds and rather ask, if that's enough than to risk any brown spots.

Alternative asking

Otherwise you might ask for "eine Scheibe Toastbrot". The perceptive host will ask you, if you want it toasted. Only the toasted toast is commonly referred to as "Toast", e.g. "Toast Hawaii" is a dish prepared with toasted toast, ham, ananas and cheese. Asking for "Toastbrot" specifically should be uncommon enough to make most people wonder and thus ask.
However very well-meaning (and/or care-free) hosts might want to please you and toast it without asking.

Asking for Weißbrot might get you sweetened bread possibly with raisins. It would definitely not be toasted though.

Finally asking for "Sandwichbrot" should be safe except for the most insistent toasting hosts.

  • IIRC, at least in Britain, "toasted" bread is always very nearly charcoal. So every toast you get in Germany will always be only "angetoastet"... – I'm with Monica Aug 8 '16 at 10:44
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    Well, yes and no. You (if you're British) will think of a German finished toast as "angetoastet". A German host producing a properly "angetoasteten" toast will make sure, there's still lots of white and just some yellow-golden tan about the rim of the toast. The proper technique is to toast mere seconds and rather ask, if that's enough than to risk any brown spots. – NoAnswer Aug 8 '16 at 11:16
  • Added proper toasting technique for "antoasten" and description of its result. – NoAnswer Aug 8 '16 at 11:19
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    Ananas -- better known in English as pineapple :) – jogloran Aug 9 '16 at 6:34
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    "Sandwichbrot"- I doubt there is something to introduce an even more multi-cultural discussion than with sandwiches and which kind of bread you take for them in Europe generally :-) This treat is about toasts is nothing compared to that :-) At least me, I would have had no idea which kind of bread is meant with "Sandw(h)ichbread ;-) Only after some thinking of American customs, I would have asked, if they mean "untoasted toast" :-) Not sure, what kind of bread is used for sandwiches in England- in France and Germany definitely something else. – Philm Mar 31 '17 at 2:10
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Germany -- the Breadlands.

I'm pretty sure you already had a look at this. A "Toast" in Germany is usually a White bread, square, with an edge length of about 8-9 cm (~3½ inches). If you order a Toast (without further details) you'll get it toasted. If you prefer it as it is, then, yes, you should order "einen ungetoasteten Toast" or "eine ungetoastete Scheibe Toast".

BUT we also have "Weißbrot" (White bread). I don't know the difference when it comes to their ingredients as it looks similar, but if you ask for "eine Scheibe Weißbrot" then you usually get a slice of untoasted White bread (as shown here (from Wiki)). It has a slightly different shape but (to me) doesn't taste any different.

We also have "Sandwich" or "Sandwich-Brot". They look like Toasts (square) but are a bit larger than Toast. Again, I don't know the difference (ingredients). They are usually not toasted.

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    Weißbrot can be all kinds of different bread made from refined wheat flour. It actually includes (non-wholegrain) Toastbrot, but can also refer to baguette. The main distinction of Toast is not just shape (in which it overlaps with Kastenbrot) but that 1) it's sold so limp that most people are expected to actually want it toasted, and 2) it generally comes pre-sliced, so a pop-up toaster is the tool you'll use (as opposed to a toaster oven, which is not called anything with Toast- in German but Brötchenofen). – leftaroundabout Aug 7 '16 at 23:29
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    I disagree that Sandwich-Brot is not toasted. Prepared sandwiches are often sold non-toasted in the British style, but most people who buy Sandwich-Toast will toast or roast it before eating. – KWeiss Aug 8 '16 at 8:40
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    Toast is maskulin, so it has to be "einen ungetoasteten Toast" or "ein ungetoastetes Toastbrot" (because Toastbrot is a Neutrum) or "eine ungetoastete Scheibe Toast" (because Scheibe is feminin). But "ein ungetoastetes Toast" is wrong! – Josef Aug 8 '16 at 9:23
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In addition to the other answers: According to Duden, it's "der Toast", not "das Toast":

Toast, der
Wortart: Substantiv, maskulin

1. a. geröstetes Weißbrot in Scheiben
   b. einzelne Scheibe geröstetes Weißbrot
   c. zum Toasten geeignetes, dafür vorgesehenes Weißbrot [in Scheiben]; Toastbrot
2. Trinkspruch

So you'd say "ein ungetoasteter Toast" or "ein ungetoastetes Toastbrot". Usally, "Toast" is toasted, but when people start asking for "ungetoasteten Toast", you might need to specify that you want yours "getoastet"...

There seem to be regional preferences, though. A poll reports that 65% of Germans use "der Toast", 31% "das Toast", and 2% "die Toast". Austrians use "das".

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    Welcome to German Language SE. Please note that (like on any other SE site) answers should attempt to answer the actual question, which was about the meaning of toast and not about its grammatical gender. – Wrzlprmft Aug 8 '16 at 9:13
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The way I and anyone I know uses it,

Toast = roasted white bread, usually square

This is roasted unless specified otherwise

is different from

Toastbrot = special bread used for toast

This is not roasted unless specified otherwise

However, since you cannot unroast a roasted toast and misunderstandings can happen, some will make sure to explicitly ask for it unroasted even if they use the word "Toastbrot". Going only by the definition though, it should not be necessary.

  • A downvote? Please comment on your disagreement with the answer. – Estharon Aug 23 '16 at 13:39

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