As I was looking up the verb aufkreuzen in DWDS, I came across the following example of the verb's usage:

der Dieb kreuzte in L auf und wurde festgenommen

What does L mean? If X had been used in the sentence instead of L, it could have probably meant any location, just for the sake of this example. But I don't remember ever seeing L as a replacement for X in such a situation.

2 Answers 2


It's an abbreviation. In juristical texts, names of people and locations are shortened to the first letter after they first appeared and police jargon follows this.

It could also be an abbreviation following the German car license plate system. L is Leipzig area then.

  • Ich halte es eher für eine Form der Anonymisierung (Herr K. aus L. ) als den Gebrauch eines bestimmten, eingeführten Begriffs. Die Annahme, man folge den Autokennzeichen, halte ich für weit hergeholt. Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 4:30
  • @userunknown: Using license plate abbreviations is quite common, in my circles at least. You can even see them on street signs occasionally, e.g. when denoting areas of a city like "M-Pasing" for München-Pasing .
    – Gerhard
    Commented Mar 23, 2017 at 7:47
  • @Gerhard: Du müsstest schon mit etwas beeindruckenderem daherkommen als M.-Pasing, etwa HL- oder MTK-irgendwas. Das würde aber dann immer noch nicht bedeuten, dass es in juristisch/polizeiliche und journalistische Sprachgepflogen eingewandert ist. Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 6:26
  • @userunknown: there is, however, absolutely no context given. I would not have placed a sentence like this into a judicial- or police-text (and I have little idea of what is customary here in terms of abbreviations), as "aufkreuzen" is rather informal. To me, this is something somebody could say/email/text/blog, with some stretch of imagination it might appear in a (local?) newspaper. But again - who knows, there is no context. I am just saying that licence plates are sometimes used as abbreviations.
    – Gerhard
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 7:34
  • 1
    @userunknown: as for other examples: in my experience, the use on street signs is (naturally) more limited to cities, like HD-xxx. For "Kreise" this use does not make sense, but especially for the more unwieldy ones ("MTK") their use in texts is not unheard of (e.g. kreisblatt.de/lokales/main-taunus-kreis/…). Googleing "im MTK" (with quotation marks) yields more results.
    – Gerhard
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 8:02

In this example, X could have been used as well as L. L has no special meaning. Perhaps not so many locations, towns or villages start with the letter X, so L might sound more colourful in the context of this sentence.

(I personally regard this "location anomyzation" as unnecessary and the example could as well say "der Dieb kreuzte in Leipzig auf und wurde festgenommen" without offending anybody.)

  • It could be not anonymization, but perhaps just an abbreviation, referring to the location established earlier in a report. Taken out of context won't tell us anything, of course.
    – Joey
    Commented Jun 18, 2018 at 7:51

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