mindy starns clark A pocket guide to amish life
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Pennsylvania Dutch
Biblical references
Amish idioms
Resources for more information


Pennsylvania Dutch

Click here to hear live recordings of Pennsylvania Dutch being spoken

Biblical references for Amish beliefs and practices

adult baptism, Acts 2:38

baptism, Acts 8:36-39; Matthew 3:5-6; 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; John 3:22-23

church discipline, Matthew 7:13-14; John 15:1-10; 2 Corinthians 13:10; 1 Timothy 5:20; Titus 3:1-10

church structure, 1 Corinthians 4:17; Titus 1:6-9

communion, Matthew 27:17-30; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; 11:23-29

excommunication and shunning, Matthew 18:7-9; John 15:1-8; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13; 2 Thessalonians 3:14; Titus 3:10

foot washing, John 13:1-17; 1 Timothy 5:10

Jesus Christ as the only foundation, 1 Corinthians 3:11

head coverings, 1 Corinthians 11:3-16

marriage roles, 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 11:8-12; 1 Timothy 3:5

mutual aid, Acts 4:32

peace and serenity, Matthew 6:25-34

photographs, Exodus 20:4

reinstatement after excommunication, Matthew 18:12-14; 2 Corinthians 2:5-11

Sabbath, Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:8

Scripture, Proverbs 30:5-6; Romans 2:12; 2 Timothy 3:15-17

selection of church leaders,Acts 1:24- 26

separation and nonconformity, Exodus 19:5; John 17:16; Romans 12:2; Acts 5:29; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9

submission, Matthew 26:39-42; Titus 2:4-10

Amish children learn to work the farm at an early age
(sometimes in ways that aren't all that safe!)


Glossary & common Pennsylvania Dutch terms

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I/J  K  L  M  N  O  P/Q  R  S/T  U/V  W  X/Y/Z

(Click the letters above to jump to that section)


aa, also
Abroth, a part of an Amish wedding when the bishop and ministers meet privately with the bride and groom for a time of admonition and encouragement
affiliation, a collection of districts with similar lifestyle regulations and leaders who often work in cooperation with each other
ach, oh
alleweil, right now
Ammann, Jakob, the founder of the Amish faith and the man for whom its followers were named
Anabaptist, a religious movement based on the opinion that only adults who have made a voluntary, conscious decision to follow Christ should be baptized. Children should not be baptized if they are too young to understand its significance or give their consent. (Early followers had been baptized previously as infants, so they became known as rebaptizers, or Anabaptists.)
Ausbund, the Amish hymnal. First published in 1564, many of its songs were written by martyrs of the faith in the sixteenth century.


the ban, shunning
Beachy Amish, one of the less conservative Amish groups
begreiflich, easy
bishop, the primary spiritual leader of a district
Bobbeli, baby
The Budget, a popular Amish newspaper headquartered in Ohio
bundling, "unmarried sleeping together"; may also be called bed courtship or bedding.


Christenpflicht, prayer book


da, the
Daadi Haus, a house that is connected to or nearby the main house on an Amish farm. Much like an "in-law suite," the Daadi Haus or Grossdaadi Haus is where the older generation lives.
dabber, quickly
Daed, dad
deacon, a church leader who assists the ministers and the bishop in caring for the faith community and supervising the financial aid ministries of the church
deerich, foolish
dei, your
Demut, humility
denk, think
denke, thank you
Die Ernsthafte Christenpflicht, a prayer book used in many Amish households district, a group of Amish who live near each other and worship together, somewhat like a congregation or a parish
Dordrecht Confession of Faith, a document that established unity among Mennonite leaders. Written in 1632, it stresses adult baptism, church discipline, shunning, and separatism.
Druwwel, trouble
du bischt, you are
Du bliebst Deitsch, "You must stay Dutch," or "You must honor your heritage," or "You must keep the ways of our people."
du kannscht, you can
Dummkopp, dummy or stupid


English, Englisch, Englischer, non-Amish
entsetzlich, awful
erlich, honest


fancy, non-Amish (as opposed to plain, which is Amish)
fehlerfrei, perfect
Freindschaft, extended family
frolic, a gathering, often of adult sisters, that allows them to visit with each other while doing chores. Frolics include various activities such as canning peaches, shucking corn, and cleaning house. By rotating houses, they help each other out, get their own work done, and have fun all at the same time.


Gaul, horse
Gelassenheit, submitting to authority
Gemeinde, a community that strives for Christlikeness
High German, the language used in Amish worship services and spiritual texts
Grossmammi, grandmother
gut, good


hatt, hard or difficult
Herr Jesu Christ, er fuehrt mich, "Lord Jesus Christ, He leads me."
hilfe, help
Hochmut, high-mindedness and pride
Hochzeit, wedding


Im Namen des Vater, des Sohns, und des Heiligen Geistes, "In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."


Kammer, bedroom
Kapp, head covering for Amish females
King James Version, the translation most often used by the Amish when quoting Bible verses in English
kumm or kummet, come


langsam, slow
loss uns geh, let's go
Luther Bible, Martin Luther's 1534 German translation, used by the Amish in most worship services and other formal events


Mamm, Mom
Mammi, Grandma
Manz, Felix, the first Swiss Anabaptist to be martyred at the hands of Protestants
Martyrs Mirror, an 1100-page book that provides gruesome, detailed etchings and stories of the earliest martyrs of the Christian faith
Meidung, shunning
minister, a church leader who preaches in Sunday services and assists the bishop in serving the congregation in various ways


Nickel Mines, the town (and the school) where on October 2, 2006, a gunman took Amish school students hostage, killed five, severely injured five more, and finally shot and killed himself.


Ordnung, the collection of regulations that govern Amish practices and behavior within a district


patriarchal democracy, style of government in which decisions are made by democratic vote on recommendations of a patriarchal authority figure
Pennsylvania Dutch, a German-based dialect which is the primary language of most Amish, spoken at home, in sermons at church, and among other Amish.
plain, Amish (as opposed to fancy, which is non-Amish)
Protestant Reformation, sixteenth-century Christian movement that led to the formation of Protestantism
publish, announce (as in publish an engagement to an Amish congregation)


Rumspringa, "running around"; used in reference to the period when Amish youth are given more freedom so that they can make an informed decision about being baptized into the Amish church


schick, behave
schnell, quickly or hurry
scholar, a student in an Amish school
schtobbe, stop
schwetze, speak
settlement, a cluster of Amish living in a common geographical area
Simons, Menno, a Catholic priest who left Catholicism to become an Anabaptist in 1536. His followers eventually became known as the Mennonites.
Sitzschtupp, living room
Streng Meidung, strict shunning
Swartzentruber, one of the more conservative Amish groups


Uneheliche Beischloft, "unmarried sleeping together"; may also be called bundling, bed courtship, or bedding.

verhuddelt, confused
verschteh, understand


was denkscht, "What do you think?"
Welt, world
Wisconsin v. Yoder, a case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1972. It determined once and for all that Amish schools were to be allowed and that forcing Amish children to attend any school past the eighth grade was a violation of their religious freedom.
Wundschmatze, pain in an old wound
Wunner, prodigy; miracle
wunnerlich, strange


ya, yes
Youngie, young people in an Amish community

Zeugnis, a letter of good standing from a church

An Amish casket


Common Amish idioms

Idiom: "The cookies are all but the milk is yet."
Translation: "The cookies are all gone but some milk is left."

Idiom: "I batch myself."
Translation: "I'm a bachelor."

Idiom: "Who daddied him?"
Translation: "Who is his father?"

Idiom: "I've got it so in my neck."
Translation: "My neck hurts."

Idiom: "I must change around."
Translation: "I need to change my clothes."

Idiom: "Will it give rain?" "Will it make rain?"
Translation: "Is it going to rain?"

Idiom: "I'll meet you go."
Translation: "I'll see you off ."

Idiom: "She is wonderful poor."
Translation: "She is extremely poor."

Idiom: "Don't splutter so."
Translation: "Don't talk so fast."

Idiom: "Outen the light." "Make out the light."
Translation: "Turn out the light"

Idiom: "How long is your off?"
Translation: "How long is your vacation?"

Idiom: "Do you mind that day?"
Translation: "Do you remember that day?"

Idiom: "You liked it still."
Translation: "You used to like it."

Mindy and her husband John, trying out an Amish buggy


Helpful resources for more information

Amish and Mennonite Heritage Center
5798 County Road 77
PO Box 324
Berlin OH 44610-0324
(330) 893-3192

Casselman River Area Historians
PO Box 591
Grantsville MD 21536
(301) 895-4488

Conservative Mennonite Conference Historical Committee
4283 Avery Road
Hilliard OH 43026
(314) 876-8181

Definitive Guide to Amish Culture
Delaware Mennonite Historical Association
PO Box 267
Greenwood DE 19950

Die Botschaft
420 Weaver Road
Millersburg PA 17061

PO Box 85
Mt. Hope OH 44660
(800) 915-0042

Illinois Amish Interpretive Center
111 South Locust Street
Arcola IL 61910
(217) 268-3599 or 1-888-45AMISH

Illinois Mennonite Historical and Genealogical Society
Illinois Mennonite Heritage Center
675 State Route 116
Metamora IL 61548-7732
(309) 367-2551

Kidron Community Historical Society
Kidron-Sonnenberg Heritage Center
13153 Emerson Road
PO Box 234
Kidron OH 44636
(330) 857-9111

Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society
2215 Millstream Road
Lancaster PA 17602
(717) 393-9745

Masthof Press and Bookstore
219 Mill Road
Morgantown PA 19543
(610) 286-0258

510 S. Van Buren Street
Shipshewana IN 46565-0701
(260) 768-4117

Mennonite Heritage Museum
200 North Poplar
PO Box 231
Goessel KS 67053
(620) 367-8200

Mennonite Historical Library
Goshen College
1700 South Main Street
Goshen IN 46526
(574) 535-7000 or 1-800-348-7422

Mennonite Historical Society of Iowa and Archives
PO Box 576
Kalona IA 52247
(319) 656-3271 or (319) 656 3732

Mennonite Information Center
2209 Millstream Rd
Lancaster PA 17602-1494
(717) 299-0954 or Fax (717) 290-1585

Mifflin County Mennonite Historical Society
PO Box 5603
Belleville PA 17004
(717) 935-5574

Ohio Amish Library Inc.
4292 State Route 39
Millersburg OH 44654
(330) 893-4011

Pequea Bruderschaft Library
PO Box 25
Gordonville PA 17529
(717) 367-3906

Plain Communities Business Exchange
420 Weaver Road
Millersburg PA 17061
(717) 692-2499

Stark County Mennonite and Amish Historical Society
3781 Cranwood Street NW
North Canton OH 44720
(330) 494 0120

Swiss Heritage Society
PO Box 88
Berne IN 46711
(260) 589-2784

Swiss Heritage Village
1200 Swiss Way
Berne IN 46711
(260) 589-8007

The Budget
PO Box 249
Sugarcreek OH 44681
(330) 852-4634

The Diary
PO Box 77
Bart PA 17503

Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies
Elizabethtown College
One Alpha Drive
Elizabethtown PA 17022
(717) 361-1470

Young Companion, Blackboard Bulletin, and Family Life
Pathway Publishers
Route 4
Aylmer, Ontario N5H2R3
Pathway Publishers
2580N 250W
LaGrange IN 46761