Word of the Week: Kummerkastentante

If you’ve got a lot of worries, have no fear! The Kummerkastentante is there for you!

Directly translated, Kummerkastentante means “worry-box-aunt”, but it basically describes an advice columnist. Many German magazines have a so-called Kummerkasten (“worry box” or “sorrow box”), which is a section that focuses on readers’ problems and provides solutions. A Kummerkastentante is the columnist who responds to readers that are seeking advice on topics ranging from relationships to family matters to problems at work.

The word Tante (“aunt”) signifies someone who’s very close to you and is willing to listen to your problems. A Kummerkastentante is always there for you – much like a family member would be. She’s willing to listen and she always knows the answer. Should you break up with your partner? Why is your daughter not talking to you? How should you deal with that annoying colleague?

In the US, advice columnists might be called “Dr. Love”. The columns might also be titled something along the lines of “Ask Annie” or “Dear Prudence.” The concept is the same in Germany.

In the context of magazines, a Kummerkasten is a section or a column. But the word is also used to refer to many types of outlets to which you can bring your worries. A Kummerkasten can be a diary, an actual box, an online forum or any other “mailbox” for receptor for your problems.

But to find yourself a Kummerkastentante, you’re going to have to buy a German magazine. And if you mail a letter describing your problem, you might just receive the answer you’re looking for.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy