Thanks to Wunderkind and Kindergarten, Kind (child, plural Kinder) is probably one of the best known German words to English speakers. The verb sorgen is another matter. In its reflexive form—with the preposition um (about)—it means "be concerned" or "worry" (about someone or something). As an intransitive verb—with the preposition für (for)—it means to "take care" of or "provide" for something or someone. The noun Sorge (plural Sorgen) also has the double meaning of "worry" and "taking care," and both meanings are present in our word of the month: A Sorgenkind is a "problem child" whom parents are most concerned about and who needs the most help among their children. We may say, for example, "Walter war von Anfang an ein Sorgenkind" (Walter was a Sorgenkind from the beginning). The term can also be used in a figurative sense. For example, we may say that the luxury car division is the Sorgenkind of a car manufacturer.
Note that a Sorgenkind is not the same as a schwarzes Schaf (black sheep) in the family: The former commands sympathy and receives help, while the latter most often does not.
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