German word of the day: Der Dominostein

These are dominos that are not meant to be played with, but rather enjoyed as a Christmas sweet.

German word of the day: Der Dominostein
'Dominosteine' are laid out at the manufacturer Lambertz in Aachen on September 30th. Photo: DPA

What does it mean? 

This is a nice compound word, made up of der Domino (domino) and der Stein (board game tile in this context), which is literally translated as “domino tile.” At Christmastime, this word refers to a popular sweet sold in Germany and Austria. 

This sweet contains several layers, topped off with a thin layer of (traditionally dark) chocolate icing. It is most known for its cubic shape. 

The base layer is der Lebkuchen, or gingerbread, which has a very long tradition of being a popular Christmas treat in Germany. 

The next layer is das Gelee, or jelly, made most often from Sauerkirsche (sour cherries) or Aprikose (apricots). 

The third and top layer is made from das Marzipan (marzipan). 

Three layers of sweets make up the beloved Christmas praline. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Kaldari.

Where did it come from? 

The Dominostein was invented in Dresden in 1936. Traditional praline sweets, which were quite popular at that time, were costly for many people. A man named Herbert Wendler decided to create the Dominostein as a more affordable option. 

They gained popularity as a replacement for pralines because of food shortages during World War II. They were even called Notpraline or “need/distress pralines” during this time. The sweet was layer produced primarily by Dresden-based chocolatier Dr. Ing. Quendt. 

December 3rd has been declared as Dominosteintag, or “Dominostein Day,” so get out there and enjoy these special German treats! 

Example sentences 

Bitte gib mir die Dominosteine. 

Please give me the domino tile pralines. 

Ein traditioneller Dominostein wird mit dunkler Schokolade hergestellt, kann aber auch mit Vollmilch- oder weißer Schokolade hergestellt werden. 

A traditional domino tile praline is made with dark chocolate, but it can also be made with milk or white chocolate. 

Wenn man Dominosteine sieht, ist es Weihnachtszeit! 

When one sees domino tile pralines, then it’s Christmas time! 


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Austrian word of the day: Beisl

This is a spot you might visit at the end of the working day - or Feierabend - particularly in Austria, as Germany has a different word for these establishments. Here's what this Austrian-German word means and how to use it.

Austrian word of the day: Beisl

Why do I need to know Beisl?

Because you may be invited to one or need to find one on the map.

What does it mean?

Das Beisl, which sounds like this, is the name for a pub or inn in Austrian German where people gather to drink beverages. In Germany, it is usually called a Kneipe.

This isn’t a fancy cocktail bar – it’s a neighbourhood watering hole and forms part of the make-up of towns and cities across Austria. It’s usually unpretentious, often small and used to be very smoky before Austria banned smoking indoors.

The term comes from the Czech “pajzl”, which means pub or dive. It’s a diminutive short form of the noun “hampejz” – with meaning such as “dog house” and even “brothel”.

Other possibilities for its origins include the Yiddish bajiss (house) , and the Austrian dialectal diminutive of the word Beiz – which was a low-class pub until the word got a better reputation.

Nowadays, the Beisl are usually friendly and charming and give an insight into life in Austria. So perhaps ask your Austria friends for a tip on a cool Beisl to visit. Just don’t expect the staff to speak English at all – or take credit cards.

If you’re hungry, keep in mind that Beisl usually doesn’t serve food or at least no hot dishes.

How to use it:
Treffen wir uns am Freitag nach Feierabend im Beisl.
Let’s meet in the pub on Friday after work finishes.
Ich gehe mit den Jungs ins Beisl.
I’m going to the pub with the lads.