Hardworking vs. Lazy in German

by Expath Language School

Two states that you‘ll surely experience as you start learning German.


In the German language, people who work tirelessly and purposefully are described as being fleißig (much more rarely arbeitsam or emsig), whereas those averse to working, moving, or making an effort are labelled faul (literally “rotten”).

The corresponding nouns are Fleiß for “industriousness” or “studiousness” and Faulheit for “laziness” or “idleness”.


Dein Sohn ist ein sehr fleißiger Schüler. Your son is a very hardworking/studious student.

Ohne Fleiß kein Preis. No pains, no gains. (Literally “without industriousness no prize.”)

Sie ist fleißig wie eine Biene. She’s hardworking/busy like a bee.

Ich bin heute zu faul um zu arbeiten. I’m too lazy to work today.

Deine unglaubliche Faulheit wird wirklich zum Problem. Your incredible laziness is really becoming a problem.

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