German for "living room," today's "lebensraum" has an ugly history; it originally described the space that the nation sought out to allow the "superior" races of people to live and grow. But now the word can be used in a much more pleasant way. Lebensraum is simply the space we need to live, grow, and develop.
Speaking of supposed superior beings, we recently looked at another German borrowing that hasn't shaken off its ugly meaning: "_________." It means "the master race." Could you recall this term?
make your point with...
Lebensraum is the space required for people or things to grow and develop freely.
LAY bunz roum
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 lebensraum," "such lebensraum," "a lot of lebensraum," "no lebensraum," and so on, but don’t say "lebensraums.")
How to use it:
"Lebensraum" has the advantage of clarity over potentially misleading phrases like "living space" and "living room." With "lebensraum," we're not talking about the living room of your house; we're talking about the physical or figurative space in which we can freely live and grow. So, talk about people, groups, projects, fields of study, and ideas that need lebensraum, seek lebensraum, gain lebensraum, compete for lebensraum, lack lebensraum, and so on.
You might yearn for lebensraum if you live in a crowded city, for example, or your small children might crave lebensraum for running and playing if they've spent too much time in cramped classrooms. A field of study might need more lebensraum to establish itself in society and to fully diversify.
Notice that I keep treating "lebensraum" as a common noun with a lowercase letter. Some folks choose to write "Lebensraum" and preserve the German rule of capitalizing all nouns. The choice is yours. I made mine based on how common it seems for others to use a lowercase letter with this particular German borrowing.
"Island fever" is that panicked, claustrophobic feeling you get from living on a small island--a desperate need for lebensraum.
The field of educational psychology has garnered considerable lebensraum over the past several decades, expanding to fill many specialized publications.
study it now:
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "lebensraum" means when you can explain it without saying "space for growth" or "room for unrestrained living."
try it out:
Think of a place that feels too cluttered to you, and fill in the blanks: "(Certain items) seem to compete for lebensraum in/on _____."
Literal example: "Country kitsch, from tools to advertisements, seem to compete for lebensraum at Cracker Barrel."
Figurative example: "Theories of child development seem to compete for lebensraum in this introductory textbook."
before you review:
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:
When it comes to word roots, everybody knows what some of them mean, like “ambi/amphi” (“both”) and “circum” (“around”) and “hetero” (“different”). This knowledge helps you explain why words like “automobile” and “autobiography” look similar—in this case, it’s because they both involve the concept of “self.” But what about some of the less obvious roots? Could you explain, for example, why “contain” looks so much like “sustain” by defining “tain”? This month, we're exploring the meanings underlying common words you know. You can usually figure these out by looking for an extremely basic concept common to all the words in each group. We’ll start with easier, more obvious roots and move on to trickier ones as the month goes on!
Yesterday's question: In abstain, attain, contain, detain, maintain, retain, and sustain, what does “tain” mean?
Answer: To hold.
Try this one today: In amnesty, amnesia, and mnemonic, what does “mne” mean?
A Point Well Made:
Richard Dawkins: “Good public speaking is more than just decibels—a point that’s often overlooked by demagogues, evangelists and--unfortunately--gullible audiences.”
review today's word:
1. The opposite of LEBENSRAUM is
2. _____ absolutely cannot share lebensraum.
A. Cults and rational thinkers B. Siblings who get along well
C. Medical and psychological research
Answers are below.
a final word:
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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.
Answers to review questions:
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