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The Word Scharf

In English, the word "sharp" has a few different meanings. We can use it to describe the blade of a knife, but we can also say that someone is a "sharp dresser." The German word scharf also has a range of meanings beyond "sharp-edged."


One very common translation of scharf that you may already know is "spicy."


Wenn ihr es nicht ganz so scharf mögt,

If you don't like it quite so spicy,

dann könnt ihr diese kleinen Sch'... Chilischotenkerne entfernen.

then you can remove these little ch'... chili seeds.

Captions 52-53, Cannelloni - mit Jenny

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Das Gemisch, das auf Stufe zehn kommt,

The mixture that makes it to level ten

ist die schärfste Chilisoße der Welt.

is the hottest chili sauce in the world.

Caption 21, Currywurst - Berlins schärfstes Stück

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Scharf can also be used as an adjective or adverb to mean "sleek" or "attractive." In this sentence, it's used to describe the design of a car:


Von der Spitze bis zum Heckspoiler

From the front end to the rear spoiler,

ist er richtig schön scharf gezeichnet.

it's really sharply designed.

Caption 4, Auto-Bild-TV - Tops & Flops der IAA

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Finally, scharf is also used to describe images in terms of whether they are in focus or not:


Und dann... die Bilder, die scharf waren,

And then... the pictures that were in focus,

da war wieder der Ausdruck nicht so, wie ich's gerne hätte.

there again the expression wasn't how I'd like to have it.

Caption 34, Lokalhelden - Art House

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Further Learning
Watch the currywurst video above in its entirety on Yabla German for more examples of the word in use. Make sentences with the word scharf, integrating the correct endings based on gender (eine scharfe Suppe, ein scharfes Gewürz), and then try some sentences with the comparative and superlative form (schärfer, schärfste).

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