The Herrenvolk are a (supposed) master race of human beings. In other words, a Herrenvolk is a group of people who are (supposedly) better than everybody else.
HEH run folk
Part of speech:
(Like "milk," "rice," and "education," uncountable nouns are words for stuff that can’t be broken into exact units. You talk about "some milk," "the rice," and "a lot of education," but you don’t say "a milk," "three rices," or "many educations."
Likewise, talk about "the Herrenvolk," "such Herrenvolk," "no Herrenvolk," and so on, but don’t say "Herrenvolks.")
How to use it:
Use it with caution! This word is a firecracker. It can really make some people upset. The original Herrenvolk, or master race, was the race of superior people as conceptualized by the Nazis. So when you use "Herrenvolk" today, you're usually using it to criticize an attitude, statement, or behavior that raises certain people up above others, as if they're better.
So, you might talk about the Herrenvolk of a certain place, in order to call them out for thinking of themselves as superior. Or you might say that certain people are an imaginary Herrenvolk or that they fancy themselves a Herrenvolk by the way they try to control others or bend the laws in their favor. You might use this word to emphasize how there isn't (or shouldn't be) a Herrenvolk in our society, or to emphasize how morals or human rights are absolute and can't be manipulated by some self-professed members (or leader) of the Herrenvolk.
You can also use this word like an adjective to talk about Herrenvolk arrogance, Herrenvolk ideas, their Herrenvolk creed, etc.
Like with many German words that have entered English, "Herrenvolk" can be capitalized (like all German nouns are) or it can be written with a lowercase "h" if you prefer to Anglicize foreign terms (make them follow English rules instead).
"Us against them" rhetoric in politics is a slippery slope. Before you know it, someone's getting accused of breeding a Herrenvolk.
In The Giver and many other novels and stories, generations of rigid cultivation has produced a Herrenvolk, which inevitably spawns a divergent member with the power to make the entire society crumble.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "Herrenvolk" means when you can explain it without saying "superior beings" or "group of elites."
Think of someone (from real life, history, or fiction) who fears, hates, or dislikes a certain group of other people, and fill in the blanks: "With Herrenvolk (arrogance/ignorance,) (Someone) (declared that / implied that / acted as if) _____."
Example: "With Herrenvolk arrogance, he's implied that no member of a certain major religion can be trusted."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
We're playing with clichés this month, examining the origins of some colorful ones. I’ll give you a cliché (some of which you might also call a proverb and/or an idiom) and pose a multiple-choice question about its origin. (I used this nifty book as a reference!)
Yesterday's question: An “eager beaver” is someone who works hard in an earnest way. Did this cliché come from England, the US, or Canada?
Answer: This is from the US, where we pride ourselves on hard work and phrases that kind of rhyme.
Try this one today: “Better safe than sorry.” Was that cliché first recorded around 1533, 1733, or 1933?
A Point Well Made:
Martin Luther King Jr.: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
1. The closest opposite of HERRENVOLK is
A. THE ARISTOCRACY
B. CLASS WARFARE
C. THE OFFAL
2. By definition, a Herrenvolk democracy _____ its minority groups.
A. elevates B. tolerates
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
If you're unfamiliar with German, today's word might look indecipherable. But think about how the German equivalent of "Mr." or "Sir" is "Herr," and think about what a Volkswagen is (the people's car), and you've pretty much already figured out what a Herrenvolk is--a people made up of fine sirs, otherwise known as a master race.
Likewise, the pieces of these other German borrowings are pretty easy to put together. See if you can recall their meanings: