How do you say busy in German?

One reason why using online German dictionaries that don't offer sample sentences is not a good idea is because many of our words are context specific. Often, where the English language uses one word, the German language has three or four. The word "busy" would be a good example for this. In English, you can use this word with reference to people as well as places, whereas the German language has different words for these different situations.

Let's start with places being "busy". The most common German word in this context is "voll", which we use for crowded locations.


e.g. Die City of London ist morgens sehr voll.

Die Londoner U-Bahn ist während der "Rush hour" zu voll.


When specifically referring to busy streets, we use "stark befahren" or "verkehrsreich", which both mean there is a lot of traffic on the roads.


Morgens und abends sind die Straßen in der Innenstadt sehr stark befahren.

Apps wie Waze helfen dabei, verkehrsreiche Straßen zu umfahren.


When referencing people being busy, the main word in German is"beschäftigt".


E.g. Sie war heute Morgen sehr beschäftigt. Sie musste einen Vortrag halten.

Wenn man viel arbeitet, ist man sehr beschäftigt.


Less common and usually used in the context of one's day or life, you might hear or read the word "arbeitsreich" (strenuous, work-filled)


E.g. Nach einem arbeitsreichen Tag, fuhr sie nach Hause und erholte sich.

Er hatte ein arbeitsreiches Leben.


Finally, there is one word, which like the English busy, can be used for both, people and places. It's the slightly outdated word "geschäftig", which can be used as an adjective (industrious, bustling) as well as an adverb (busily).


E.g. Er war sehr geschäftig, aber seine Kollegen hatten nicht viel zu tun.

Das Londoner Finanzzentrum ist sehr geschäftig.


On our German language blog "Auf Deutsch, bitte!", you will find posts on confusing words like the German noch, false friends like "gift" and the German "also", as well as articles on many grammar topics- from German adjective ending rules, on how to use the four German cases, where to place nicht in a German sentence, an explanation on when to use zu in German sentences, question words in German, and on German word order.


Find out more about our German lessons, small German courses, and Business German language training here.

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