Dictionary of Weirdness
Gänsefüßchen ("little goose feet"): I‘m pretty sure that‘s the most adorable word for “quotation marks” in any language

Gänsefüßchen

You won’t believe how complex the topic of quotation marks is until you do what I am doing in this very moment: write a text in a language other than your own.

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Gänsewein: When you only have a glass of water with your meal, Germans will say you are drinking 'goose wine"

Gänsewein

A fine dinner without alcohol? This is hardly thinkable for many Germans. People from the Federal Republic tend to consider a glass of beer or wine an essential part of the meal.

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Geheimratsecken: When your hairline recedes above your temples, Germans will say you are getting “secret council corners”

Geheimratsecken

Nature is very unjust when it comes to hair loss. Some guys will still look like a Monchichi in their 60s. Others get close to baldness even before their Abitur.

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Gell: One simple German word replaces any tag question like “isn’t it...”, “haven’t you...” or “weren’t they.”

Gell…?

Many Germans don’t even mind pronouncing the “ll,” smearing the word into something like “ge’” or “ge’ah.”

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"Gemütlichkeit" has been voted “most beautiful German word” by foreigners in a recent survey. It describes an atmosphere of comfort, peace and acceptance.

Gemütlichkeit

Don’t be fooled by dictionaries that try to tell you that Gemütlichkeit is merely a translation of the English word “coziness.” There’s much more to it than sitting on the sofa in your comfy clothes.

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Gericht: Am I the only one who finds it strange that Germans use the same word for “dish” as for “law court?”

Gericht

The German language offers a good amount of word pairs that seem completely unrelated to each other but spell exactly the same. “Gericht” is a classic example.

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Dachshund, Kindergarten, Sauerkraut, Wunderkind: There are more than 400 German loan words in English

German loan words 

German loan words are used not only the French and Arabic speaking world, but also in distant places like Papua New Guinea, Kenia or Korea. First and foremost however, the English language is literally packed with them.

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Glückspilz (“lucky mushroom”): That’s how Germans refer to a person who is always on the fortunate side

Glückspilz

What does a German actually need to be happy? According to a study from 2020, the job is the most important factor—how could it be any different?

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Götterspeise (“dish of Gods“): That’s how Germans refer to jello.Well, if I was God, I’d probably choose something else...

Götterspeise

Even as a kid, I kept asking myself: Of all the treats in the world – why on heaven and earth does this gooey mess carry such a sophisticated name? 

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Hamsterkauf ("panic buying")

Hamsterkauf

The term goes back to the hamster’s ability to collect vast quantities of supplies in its cheek pouches. Just like the Germans’ ability to stash vast quantities of noodles and toilet paper in their cellars.

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Handschuh: A glove is simply called a “hand shoe” in German and I think every other language in the world should steal this concept

Handschuh

Why on earth would anyone bother creating an extra name for this clothing item without the ingenious shoe reference?

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Heimscheißer - German is Weird

Heimscheißer

For such a precise-sounding term, the word Heimscheißer is remarkably versatile. On the most basic level, it simply describes what it says: a person who prefers to do their number 2’s at home.

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Herrgottsbscheißerle (“little god cheater”): An alternative word for Maultaschen (Swabian dumplings)

Herrgottsbscheißerle

Italians have Ravioli, Slavs have Pierogi, Koreans have Dim Sum. And, most importantly, Swabians couldn’t even exist without their Maultaschen.

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Hexenschuss: The German word for a sudden lower back pain literally translates to “shot by a witch”

Hexenschuss

Yes, it’s painful! And it comes without any warning… All it takes is one clumsy movement and you suddenly feel like an 80 year old crock who shouts out in ache every time you stand up from your seat

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Hüftgold ("hip gold"): That’s how Germans refer to the excess fat around their waists

Hüftgold

“A man without a belly is a cripple”. That’s what my grandma used to say when I refused to eat. When it comes to justifying the excess pounds, we Germans are overwhelmingly creative.

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Hundewetter: When it's very unpleasant outside, Germans will say it's a "dog weather"

Hundewetter

The shepherd dog is emblematic of Germany in a way that otherwise only socks and sandals are. Without a doubt, Germans love their canine friends. So it comes as a great surprise that this love is not at all reflected in their language.

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Inselbegabung: If you have great abilities in a specific area while your other skills are poor, Germans will say you have an"island gift"

Inselbegabung

Imagine being able to play Beethoven’s 9th Symphony flawlessly on the piano after hearing it only once, yet the concept of assembling an IKEA rack seems like rocket science to you.

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"Jein": German gives you the power to say yes and no at the same time with just four letters.

Jein

“Did you watch the German national team game yesterday” – “Jein. I left the TV on. But my Tinder date came to visit, so I didn’t catch that much of it.”

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Kabelsalat: When your wires are all tangled and cluttered, Germans will say you have “cable salad”

Kabelsalat

The German word Salat is a tricky one, as it refers both to a salad and the typical ingredients a salad is usually made of, i.e. lettuce. It also conveys a connotation of chaos or disorder, like in this case.

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German is weird: Fun Facts and Trivia about the German language

This blog is a love letter to the curiosities of the German language that give it its poetic and, at times, oddly humorous qualities.

German Is Weird: Crazy Words von Arschkarte bis Zielwasser - from "ass card" to "aiming water"

The “German Is Weird” book is now available: order here!

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