Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: auf-


Alternative forms[edit]


From Old English auph, aulf, from Old Norse. Doublet of elf.


auf (plural aufs)

  1. (obsolete) A changeling or elf child; a child left by fairies.
  2. (obsolete) A deformed or foolish child; a simpleton; an oaf.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Drayton to this entry?)

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for auf in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)



Alternative forms[edit]

  • auff (obsolete)
  • uf, uff (obsolete or dialectal)


From Middle High German ūf, from Old High German ūf, from Proto-Germanic *upp. This form with a lengthened vowel is originally Upper German. Central German forms were Middle High German uf and (western) up. Compare Luxembourgish op, Dutch op, English up.


  • IPA(key): /aʊ̯f/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aʊ̯f



  1. (with dative) on, upon (positioned at the top of)
    Das Buch liegt auf dem Tisch.The book is lying on the table.
  2. (with accusative) on, onto, up (moving to the top of)
    Ich lege das Buch auf den Tisch.I’m putting the book on the table.
  3. (with accusative) on (indicating responsibility)
    Das erste Getränk geht auf's Haus.The first drink is on the house.
    Das fällt nicht auf dich zurück, sondern auf mich. Ich hab's vermasselt.
    That's not on you but on me. I messed up.
  4. (with dative) in, at; used with certain nouns intead of bei or in
    Niemand auf der Welt hätte das voraussehen können.No one in the world could have predicted that.
    auf dem Stadtplatzin the town square
    Das Schiff ist auf SeeThe ship is at sea.
    auf der Kirmesat the fun fair
    auf der Postat the post office (also: bei der Post)
  5. (with accusative) to; used with certain nouns instead of zu or in
    auf die Kirmesto the fun fair
    auf die Postto the post office (also: zur Post)
  6. (with a language name) in (see usage note below)
    Was heißt das auf Deutsch?What’s this in German?
  7. (archaic or colloquial, regional, northern and western Germany) on (a day; usually of the week)
    Du kannst doch auf (’n) Sonntag nich’ den Rasen mähen!
    You can’t mow the lawn on a Sunday!
  8. (with accusative) for (during the continuance of)
    auf Jahre hinausfor years to come

Usage notes[edit]

  • Auf is a Wechselpräposition, meaning that it is used with accusative case when the verb shows movement from one place to another, whereas it is used with dative case when the verb shows location. In idiomatic combinations with verbs the correct case is not always predictable and must be memorised.
  • Generally speaking, auf is used when referring to something being on a horizontal surface, as opposed to an, which usually points to a vertical surface.
  • Auf is used with language names not preceded by any determiners or adjectives; otherwise in is used. Thus you say something auf Englisch (in English), but in gutem Englisch (in good English). The phrase auf gutem Englisch may not be entirely ungrammatical, but it is doubtful and at most informally acceptable.


  • (on a day): an

Derived terms[edit]

  • (auf + das) aufs (standard)
  • (auf + dem) aufm (colloquial only)



  1. (somewhat informal) open
    Synonym: offen
    Die Tür ist auf.The door is open.
  2. (colloquial) finished; gone (food)
    Synonym: alle
    Hast du deine Suppe auf?Have you finished your soup?
    Die Milch is’ auf.The milk is gone. (consumed)

Usage notes[edit]

  • Compare to the latter example the phrase: Die Milch ist aus, which would mean that all the milk has been sold out, e.g. from a supermarket.



  1. carry on (continue or proceed as before)
  2. have a go