According to dict.cc, there are three similar ways to say it: sorglos, sorgenlos and sorgenfrei. This doesn't include the other translations such as unbekümmert or unbeschwert, either! Then which one would I use, and what are the difference(s) between them?

Also, another question that someone could possibly answer: if I am met with multiple translations for one word like this, which one should I use? Sometimes I just choose one randomly, and a German speaker tells me that the sentence I am making sounds really strange, unlike one a native speaker would make.

As a commenter mentioned, here is the sentence I would like to translate:

The children smiled and looked happy and carefree.


1 Answer 1


It depends in what context the word is mentioned.
An example:

She has a carefree attitude toward life.
Sie hat eine unbeschwerte/unbekümmerte/sorglose/sorgenfreie Einstellung zum Leben.

The translations can all be used here but have a slightly different meaning.

Your example:

The children smiled and looked happy and carefree.
Die Kinder lachten und wirkten sorglos und glücklich.

If it is used as a single word in e.g. insurance advertisements it could also be translated as "rundum sorglos Paket" but this would be a special occurrence.

According to ngrams "unbekümmert" still seems to be the most used adjective of the four given but in most cases all of them can be used with a slightly different meaning. If it sounds strange it does not mean it is wrong.

ngram: usage of unbeschwert, sorglos, sorgenfrei, unbekümmert over time


is used when you want to express that you do not feel grief about something.


is more likely used when you want to express that you are not afraid of something.

  • 2
    Unbeschwerte und unbekümmerte und sorgenfrei bedeuten nicht dasselbe! Ich kann Probleme ("Sorgen") haben und trotzdem naiv unbekümmert sein.
    – Iris
    Oct 20, 2016 at 10:09

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