Gemütlichkeit

A typical German beergarden scene, permeated by Gemütlichkeit

Gemütlichkeit (German pronunciation: [ɡəˈmyːtlɪçkaɪt] (About this sound listen)) is a German-language word used to convey the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness,[1] and good cheer. Other qualities encompassed by the term include coziness, peace of mind, and a sense of belonging and well-being springing from social acceptance.

History and etymology

Gemütlichkeit derives from gemütlich, the adjective of Gemüt, which means "heart, mind, temper, feeling" expressed by (and cognate with) English mood. The German abstract noun Gemütlichkeit has been adopted into English.[2] The current meaning of the word derives from its use in the Biedermeier period. By the second half of the 19th century, it also became associated with a set of traits supposedly unique to the German culture. In the United States, the city of Jefferson, Wisconsin uses the phrase: "The Gemütlichkeit City" as its motto.[3] The Wisconsin Department of Tourism also offers their own definition of gemütlichkeit on travelwisconsin.com, with claims that gemütlichkeit is a feeling one gets when visiting Wisconsin.[4]

The word can be used in descriptions of holidays.[5] In the 1973 English contract law case Jarvis v Swans Tours Ltd, a holidaymaker sued after not receiving the Gemütlichkeit promised by the promotional literature for a package holiday to the Swiss Alps.

The communal connotations of Gemütlichkeit are also emphasized in some uses of the term. For example, one academic described it as a tradition of "public festivity" (in the form of a "mixture of music, food, and drink"), which "promote[d] community solidarity."[6] The Harlem Renaissance was then cited as of how a sense of Gemütlichkeit arises from a "mix of music, art and politics in service of community consciousness".[6]

Gemütlichkeit has been appropriated at least once to describe the tenor of an economic era rather than spirit of a social gathering. In analyzing the "inflation dampening effects of globalization" a Georgia Southern University professor wrote that certain U.S. economic trends could "spell an end of the Gemütlichkeit — a situation in which cheap labor and money abroad as well as ever-increasing productivity at home had permitted an uninterrupted spell of controlled growth in overall prices".[7]

Other Languages
español: Gemütlichkeit
français: Gemütlichkeit
italiano: Gemütlichkeit