When learning about German verbs, I came across the entry “Dämpfen,” which means “to muffle,” “damp,” “to quench,” and “to smother.” When you remove the umlaut, it means “to steam,” “to fume,” “to reek.”

It does make sense that a foul odor would be smothering or muffling. Any word change is possible with the smallest change to its tone or vowel sound.


  • Strutz, Henry. “501 German Verbs.” 3rd Edition. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 1998.

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