There is a place in Switzerland named "Bärefatt" which seems to be a swiss-german word built with "Bäre" (bear) and "Fatt". I can't find any translation for "Fatt", it looks like it could mean "paw" or "Tatze" in german. Is this translation correct? and what is etymology of "Fatt"?

Edit: if I say it could mean "paw" is because seen from above, this place looks like a huge bear left a clawprint or footprint in the mountain. "Fatt" could also mean "claw" or "Klaue" in german?

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enter image description here (source)

google earth

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    I doubt that people in the ancient days, when names for mountains were given, had the chance to look at it from above. Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 12:20
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    @scienceponder On the other hand they could climb the nearby mountain, see edit.
    – user35162
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 12:32
  • @scienceponder: Weißt Du denn, wann der Name vergeben wurde? Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 18:30
  • @userunknown Nein, weiß ich nicht. Aber geographische Namen werden normalerweise nicht vergeben, sondern folgen üblicherweise einer langen lokalen Tradierung, bis sie irgendwann im Rahmen einer Kartographierung niedergeschrieben werden. Commented Nov 15, 2018 at 11:36
  • @scienceponder alter comment aber dennoch: Sag das mal der Dufourspitze
    – MindSwipe
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 11:20

3 Answers 3


It probably means 'bear path' (Bärenpfad in standard German). Locals in Firsitte also spell the name of the area Bärefat (indicating a long vowel) and the place name Bärenpfad or localized spellings like Bärefad, Bärenfad, Bärfad, Bärpfad, Bärufad, Bärufat or Bärfet are quite common also elsewhere in Switzerland.

You can also find Bärefatt listed in a dictionary of place names related to brown bears in Capt, Lüps, Nigg & Fivaz: Fakten zur Ausrottungsgeschichte des Braunbären Ursus arctos in der Schweiz, 2005.


With Swiss German (Region Zurich) being my native language, I have never seen or heard the word "Fatt".

But the Swiss German dialect is split into a whole bunch of very different subdialects, so I can't say that this word doesn't exist with certainty.

However, I found 1 mention of the word with google:

auch unter den angeblich schwzd. Wörtern werden solche Phantasiegebilde sein; wenigstens weiß das Schwzd. Idiotikon nichts von Wörtern wie Fatt m. 'Terrasse', Muris pl. 'Brombeeren', Bammeli n. 'Ellritze'.

According to this text, der Fatt means Terrasse / terrace. Unfortunately I can't help you with the etymology.

After another round of research I found that in some regions fatt means fade/fad (adj.) (EN: flavourless, stale, unsavoury), but it is neither near the region of Bärematt nor would it make sense to call a place that.

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    Wait a moment. The text you quote says that the Schzwd. Idiotikon does not (!) have a word "Fatt" in the sense of "terrasse" etc. Did you misread it, perhaps? Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 13:18
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    @ChristianGeiselmann the idiotikon does not list the word, but the author of the text clearly knows the word Fatt to mean Terrasse. There is no complete dictionary for swiss german that accounts for all subdialects, so I don't think the word not being in there means it doesnt exist.
    – kscherrer
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 13:30

Supposed that the location got its name indeed from the shape of the terrain, which can be described as similar to a bear paw, the word in use here could be


Fatt could be a local Schweizerdeutsch form of "Pfote".

But that's really only a wild guess (based on some familiarity with Schweizerdeutsch from living in a neighbouring area).

Anyway, leaving out the "p" before "f" and shortening long vowels are frequent phonetic transformations in German dialects.

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    I can to a certain extent follow you with the change from pf to f, the vowel length and abolition of the final e to get from Pfote to Fatt, but how do you explain the vowel change from o to a? I can't find any reasonable path for that through any standard vowel shift, or do you know any cognates or similar word pairs with that shift in Standard and Highest Alemannic German?
    – jarnbjo
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 20:18

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