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While doing some searching on german.stackexchange regarding the word für, I came across this post:

Correct usage: "für die Menschen" or "für den Menschen"? Accusative or dative (idiomatic exception)?

In it, an example was used with Traubenzucker, which apparently means glucose in German. I believe "Die Traube" means grapes, right? So does that mean Germans use the term "Grapesugar" for glucose? If so, is this a similar language phenomenon to the way "Kleenex", a brand name, became a utility synonym for "tissues" in America? Or is it the inverse condition, where the German word for grapes is actually rooted upon "Traube" and that word has a more general semantic sense of "sweet" rather than being tied to a particular fruit, and grapes ended up being derived from it?

If anyone knows the scientific origin on how Traubenzucker became the word that means "glucose" in German, it would be interesting to know.

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    Next on your list: Eiweiß :) – Carsten S Jun 10 at 18:46
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    Also: Zitronensäure (and lots of others on -säure), Weinstein. – David Vogt Jun 10 at 19:18
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    It is a general phenomenon that where Enlish has one term of Latin or Greek origin, German often has one Fremdword and one Germanic one (Grippe/Influenza etc.). – phipsgabler Jun 11 at 6:50
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    NB, Dutch has the same druivensuiker. – gerrit Jun 11 at 8:21
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    Danish has the same; druesukker. – Adám Jun 11 at 8:56
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First the correct translations:

  • "Die Traube" = "bunch of berries", "bunch of grapes" or "cluster"
  • "Die Weintraube" = "bunch of grapes" or "grape"
  • "grape" = "die Weinbeere" (the single berry) or "die Weintraube" (the whole bunch of grapes)

In 1747 the German chemist Andreas Marggraf isolated glucose from Raisins (dried grapes) and 1792 Johann Tobias Lowitz (Russian name: Товий Егорович Ловиц) (a German-Russian chemist) isolated it from grapes that were not dried, and he could prove, that it was different from "Rübenzucker" ("beet sugar" = sucrose) which he could isolate from "Zuckerrüben" (sugar beets).

And this is how glucose and sucrose came to their German names.

Traubenzucker (grape sugar) = sugar that first was found in grapes. Rübenzucker (beet sugar) = sugar that first was found in sugar beets.

Another German name for sucrose is "Rohrzucker" because you also find it in "Zuckerrohr" (sugar cane).

The German name for fructose is "Fruchtzucker" (fruit sugar), because you can find it in many fruits like apples, pears, apricots, plums etc.


I think this list of German names for different kinds of sugar is complete:

  • Traubenzucker ("grape sugar" = glucose) = sugar that first was found in grapes.
  • Rübenzucker ("beet sugar" = sucrose) = sugar that first was found in sugar beets.
  • Rohrzucker ("cane sugar" = sucrose) = sugar that first was found in sugar cane.
  • Fruchtzucker ("fruit sugar" = fructose) = sugar that first was found in different fruits.
  • Milchzucker ("milk sugar" = lactose) = sugar that first was found in milk.
  • Malzzucker ("malt sugar" = maltose) = sugar that first was found in malt.
  • Schleimzucker ("slime sugar" = galactose) = sugar that first was found in the slimy skin that appears on boiled milk when it cooles down.
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    I'd trade my extremely deficient German for your excellent English any day of the week. :) – Robert Oschler Jun 10 at 14:47
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    Unter Kennern gibt es noch Holzzucker. Und heute habe ich auch von Birkenzucker erfahren. – TaW Jun 10 at 23:05
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    While you are technically correct that Trauben are multiple berries, people very often don't make this distinction and call a single wine berry "Weintraube". Similarly, when people talk about "Weintrauben", they usually don't literally mean multiple cluster, but multiple berries. – Polygnome Jun 10 at 23:25
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    Galactose is what I use to sweeten my space coffee. – corsiKa Jun 11 at 16:17
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    The usual word for saccharose is sucrose, which is about 100 times more common these days. – TonyK Jun 13 at 15:09
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You should be aware that the name glucose is based on a Greek word for sweet wine. (From grapes, of course - no cider or similar.)

From the article Glucose in French Wikipedia:

Le mot « glucose » provient du grec ancien τὸ γλεῦκος / gleukos qui désignait les vins doux ou liquoreux, voire le moût.

The difference between the English and the German words is simply that the link to the fruit is more obvious. Most German children realize it rather soon, without knowing any word of Ancient Greek.

By the way, other names for specific kinds of sugar are also based on Greek or Latin words for their potential sources:

  • fructose: fruit
  • maltose: malt
  • lactose: milk
  • saccharose (=sucrose): Greek word for sugar
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    My French is tres mal. For anybody else with similar limitations this is the equivalent passage on the English wikipedia page: "The name glucose derives through the French from the Greek γλυκός ('glukos'), which means "sweet", in reference to must, the sweet, first press of grapes in the making of wine." – craq Jun 11 at 4:38
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Your assumption about Traubenzucker = Glucose is right: wiki. Weintrauben are the fruits you make e.g. wine of.

It states further:

Glucose wurde erstmals 1747 von Andreas Marggraf aus Rosinen isoliert.[11][12] Sie wurde 1792 von Johann Tobias Lowitz aus Weintrauben isoliert und als verschieden von Rohrzucker (Saccharose) erkannt.[13] Glucose ist der von Jean Baptiste Dumas 1838 geprägte Begriff, der sich in der chemischen Literatur durchgesetzt hat.

Translation of this quote:

Glucose was isolated first time from raisins by Andreas Marggraf in 1747. In 1792 Johann Tobias Lowitz isolated glucose from grapes and recognized as different from cane suger (saccharose). Glucose is the name chosen by Jean Baptiste Dumas in 1838 and this name has been established in chemnical literature.

So, no brand name. On a sidenote: You can make Rosinen out of Weintrauben.

The usage of "Traubenzucker" is mainly when you talk about the blood sugar level and when companies sell it "to give you an extra boost of instant energy".

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Germans don’t call glucose “grape sugar”, they call it “Traubenzucker” which has a very specific meaning. It has nothing to do with “Trauben”. If a German has to translate it into English, they would either say “glucose” or “I don’t know the English word”, but not “grape sugar”.

Similar to “Rohrzucker” which is cane sugar and not tube sugar.

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    But we do call it "grape sugar"!? – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jun 13 at 5:13
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    You could have read the question, not just the title. – Carsten S Jun 15 at 23:47

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