When I look it up, Brüderchen seems to just mean brother. Then, what's the difference between it and Bruder? Why is it spelled with an umlaut and "chen" on the end?

  • 2
    Welcome! Please see list of diminutives and take the tour to learn how to ask a proper question.
    – Olafant
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 17:22
  • In addition to what was already said (using it to define small things), using -chen often defines a more cute version of the word Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 20:41
  • Alhough it is of course a standard diminutive, it has some very special occurences immediately coming to mind. Example 1. Grimms' Fairy Tale "Brüderchen und Schwesterchen" (The brother and sister). Example 2. In the variant Brüderlein it is well-known in the song "Trink, trink, Brüderlein trink" de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Lindemann_(Komponist)
    – Paul Frost
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 17:42

4 Answers 4


Generally speaking its a diminutive that when added to a word (i.e Brötchen) it means a little version of itself.


"Chen" is a diminutive ending. If "-chen" is added to a word the word becomes neuter and the vowel very often takes an umlaut.

  • (der Bruder) das Brüderchen - little brother
  • (Vogel) Vögelchen - little bird
  • (Haus) Häuschen - hut, cabin
  • (Brot) Brötchen - bread roll

Another similar diminutive ending is "-lein" (der Bruder - das Brüderlein).


I don't really like that question, because that could have been answered with a little bit more research

Why is it spelled with an umlaut and "chen" on the end?

As said in the other answers it's a diminuation of the term Bruder.

Then, what's the difference between it

The semantical nuance for doing this is from lovingely to discriminating, and totally depends on the concrete context of those siblings talking.

The grammatical building of the Umlaut combined with -chen (or -lein) is quite regular though.


Most girls say this to there little brother. e.g. She says that he is her brother to a friend:

"Er ist mein Bruder"

She says it to him:

"Bruederchen, kannst du mir Essen holen?"

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    That term is neither restricted to girls (sisters), nor saying that for older (regarding little) brothers. It's just a diminuation, for whatever reasons intended. Your answer doesn't help much in clarification for that question. Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 19:10
  • 1
    This answer rightfully points out that Brüderchen is often used in a vocative function.
    – David Vogt
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 19:30

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