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German Word of the Day: Das Kopfkino

The Local Austria
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German Word of the Day: Das Kopfkino
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

It’s well known that German speakers can be rather literal. Yet when they refer to their Kopfkino, or ‘head cinema’, they’re referring to those mental images which imagine how events will unfold.


Our Kopfkinos are where all our hopes and fears create dramatic narratives for us to spectate, whether we want to or not.

Kopfkino scenarios may be fun and indulgent. You could watch in your head how your boyfriend finally proposes at a candlelit dinner with a bouquet of the reddest roses.  

But they can also be upsetting; you may envisage your impatient boss firing you because you’re late to work for the third time that week.

And unlike real-life films, Kopfkino movies are hard to switch off. It’s much harder to walk out of your mind than to walk out of an actual cinema.

One Austrian band has even adopted Kopfkino as its name, debuting in June 2022. Maybe they can't stop their minds playing certain images either.



Ein tolles Buch sollte das Kopfkino des Lesers anregen.

A great book should inspire the reader’s imagination.

Er fand sein Kopfkino sehr beunruhigend.

He found his mind’s eye very troubling.



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