German frequently demands great complexity to express the silliest little thing. But just as often, I run across components delightful in their simplicity. Today I share with you the joy of –zeug (pronounced tsoyg). This charming suffix pretty much means “thingy,” and you can attach it to all kinds of word beginnings with deeply satisfying results. Here are the examples I know so far:
Spielzeug – toy (play-thingy)
Werkzeug – tool (work-thingy)
Flugzeug – airplane (flight-thingy)
Feuerzeug – lighter (fire-thingy)
Schlagzeug – drum (hit-thingy)
The added bonus is, obviously, that –zeug is approximately the perfect syllable as far as pleasure of pronunciation goes. Just try it: zeug, zeug, zeug. You’re smiling, aren’t you?