Mobbing, Shooting and Smoking are all technically English words. So why do they have completely different meanings in German?

Mobbing
In English, a mob is a group of people which forms quickly, often becoming aggressive.

German imported this idea, creating the verb mobben and the noun Mobbing, which it then started to use to describe the phenomenon when a group of people, (especially colleagues and classmates) treat an equal very unfairly, generally making their lives unbearable.

In English, this is typically known as harassment (verb: harass) in a work context, and at school, bullying (verb: bully).

Germans are often surprised to hear that a celebrity like Justin Bieber is mobbed by his fans, but this only means that they surround him in search of an autograph, and not that they call him names or criticise him!

Shooting
You can shoot someone with a gun or a camera, but an organised event when many photos are taken is called a (photo) shoot, and not a shooting.

Only when someone has been shot with a gun, can something be described as a shooting.

If you hear there was a shooting involving the mafia, you can be sure that there were no cameras present! And a model like Heidi Klum will hopefully never be unlucky enough to be involved in a shooting!

Smoking
There was a time when every respectable gentleman owned a smoking jacket (a jacket for smoking). In German, this was shortened to Smoking and was used for not only the jacket, but also the whole suit.

In English, the words dinner suit and tuxedo became the most commonly used terms for this type of clothing.

You’ll see lots of tuxedos at the Oscars every year, but the event itself has a strict ‘no smoking’ policy!

Do you have any questions about this topic? Please let me know at philmarlowenglish@gmail.com

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