Gedöns - kerfuffle, stuff, junk

I don't expect this to appear in the most visible ety dictionaries.

Sadly I forgot what distant word prompted me to consider the question.

Update: Now after various hints towards dictionary entries, the question remains. The Duden enty is just a note, not an explanation. The de.Wiktionary entry is surprisingly extensive, linking it to Low German, referencing Pfeiffer and Kluge--and even Grimm notes a gloss, gedense, in which the word is already polysemous. Kluge is not accessible to me; An earlier edition, is archived online, that notes gedunsen with a similar derivation akin to dehnen. Pfeiffer qualifies the claim with "wohl", that is probably in my reading, so what's missing to be sure? Is "Rundung des Stammvokals zu ö" (rounding of the stem-vowel) not regular in Low German dialects?

After all, I can't verify the claim. I might be missing a strong argument in favor of this hypothesis. The arbitrariness of the development of any word towards a token of randomness, allows several interpretations of the material outlined above, that ends with the polysemous noun gedense and the allusion to dinsen.

That looks good, superficially, but not to the exclusion of other influences.

  • 3
    Is "carruffel" a commonly used word? Couldn't find it in dictionaries either, but I am highly amused by the fact that it is very close to the German dialect word "Geraffel", which basically means "stuff". As for Gedöns: I use it rather in the context of "ado, fuss". May 10, 2019 at 9:45
  • First address for looking for etymology of a German word is very often Wolfgang Pfeiffer: Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Deutschen, which can be found digital and for free at dwds.de And it also has a Lemma Gedöns: dwds.de/wb/Gedöns May 12, 2019 at 18:33
  • @ThorstenDittmar updated. Indeed, I must have confused Ger. "Geraffel", which in Grimm's times they defined as "1. getöse, lärm, geräusch", i.e. fuzz, not merely "3. geräffel, unbrauchbares gerät, gerümpel", i.e. junk. That's pretty much the ambiguity I had in mind, and thus half-way in agreement with kerfuffle, "a disturbance or commotion typically caused by a dispute or conflict".
    – vectory
    May 12, 2019 at 18:37
  • I must have thought of tun "to do", Getue "pretention, fuzz". Now I see jäten "to weed, weed out", of uncertain origin; It would make sense if ziehen, zerren was in there, i.e. "Unkraut zupfen"; Vice-versa, a development from Unkraut to arbitrary nonsense, hustle, unwanted stuff would make sense, depending on the origin of jäten. How does weed compare to Gewese?
    – vectory
    May 14, 2019 at 19:26

1 Answer 1


Actually, you find anwers in Duden and wiktionary.


mittelhochdeutsch gedense = das Hin-und-her-Ziehen, das Gezerre, zu: dinsen, gedunsen


Entlehnt aus dem Niederdeutschen Gedööns ‚Gerede, Gewese, Zeug‘, Entsprechung zu veraltetem Gedens(e) ‚schleppender Zug, Treck, Gezerre, Handgemenge‘, zu mittelhochdeutsch gedense ‚Herumziehen; Hin- und Herzerren‘, zu dinsen ‚ziehen, schleppen‘ gebildet.1 Weitere siehe gedunsen.

Das Wort erlangte im Deutschen ab 1998 eine größere Bekanntheit, als der damalige Bundeskanzlerkandidat Gerhard Schröder eine Ministerin suchte für das "Bundesministerium Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend", das er "Familie und das andere Gedöns" nannte, was später als abwertend rezipiert wurde. Es gibt unterschiedliche Versionen, wo und wann exakt er den Begriff prägte.[3][4][5][6][7]


Borrowed from the Niederdeutsch Gedööns 'Gerede, Gewese, Zeug' (Low German fuss), equivalent to outdated Gedens(e) 'schleppender Zug, Treck, Gezerre, Handgemenge' (dragging train, trek, tug, scuffle), to Middle High German fdense 'Herumziehen; Hin- und Herzerren' (dragging train, dragging train), to dinsen 'ziehen, schleppen' (dinsen) formed. Further see gedunsen.

The word became more widely known in German in 1998 when Gerhard Schröder, the then Chancellor candidate, sought a minister for the "Bundesministerium Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend," which he called "Familie und das andere Gedöns," which was later received as derogatory. There are different versions of where and when exactly he coined the term.[3][4][5][6][7]

  • So, which of the senses of gedense should it be? I'd call that incomplete. Far better than nothing, but not satisfying, too implicit. Imaginably, gedense might already have meant Gedöns in figurative speech
    – vectory
    May 14, 2019 at 19:31

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