I know that those words mean "smell" in english but is there any differencess?


  1. sich auf's Gründlichste berochen.
  2. Mit meinem Schnupfen rieche ich überhaupt nichts.
  3. "Das ist wirklich ziemlich wichtig, dass Hunde sich gegenseitig beschnuppern dürfen" wiederhole ich altklug und lächele.

1 Answer 1


A short answer:

  • riechen: That's "to smell" in its most general sense.

  • beriechen: This word requires an object. It means that you're checking how someone or something smells.

  • beschnuppern: It's essentially synonymous to beriechen, but mostly used for animals. Between humans it colloquially means that you are cautiously and patiently trying to get to know someone else.

  • I would also use "beriechen" only for animals, if at all. That word sounds very strange and I think I newer saw that before.
    – PMF
    Jan 30, 2019 at 11:39
  • @PMF: I don't think that beriechen is restricted to animals, but I would also prefer "an etw. riechen" in about any imaginable case. Still, one can encounter phrases like "das Berühren und Beriechen dieser Lebensmittel vor dem Kauf ist verboten". Jan 30, 2019 at 12:57
  • Oje, das tönt ja hochgestochen. Das wäre aber ein ziemlich guter Grund, diese Lebensmittel erst recht nicht zu kaufen...
    – PMF
    Jan 30, 2019 at 13:57
  • beriechen is not a verb you'd normally use in German. It's used by "Wir sind Helden" in their song "Aurélie" instead of beschnuppert just to rhyme with gesprochen.
    – Stef
    Jan 30, 2019 at 21:01

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