Dictionary of Weirdness
Karteileiche ("file corpse"): A member who is registered but inactive


I still get mail once a year from the dental clinic I last visited about 10 years ago. For this doctor’s office, I am a typical Karteileiche today.

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Kirschgrün: When they pass a traffic light just after it turned red, Germans like to defend themselves by saying it was “cherry green”


We’ve all been there. Approaching a traffic light, seeing it change from green to yellow, and then, just as you’re about to pass through, it flicks to red.

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Klammeraffe ("spider monkey"): That’s how Germans used to call the @-sign and I really wonder why no one uses this adorable name anymore


In the late 90s, the @ sign was virtually emblematic of the Internet boom. Today, we use it primarily to tag someone in a WhatsApp chat.

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Klobrille: Germans call their toilet seats “loo glasses”


Despite the creative and somewhat funny name for our favorite thrones, the actual toilet design in Germany is usually pretty straightforward.

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Klugscheißer ("wise shitter"): That’s how Germans refer to a know-it-all. And believe me, you will find a good amount of them in Germany ;)


Klugscheißen is a true national sport in Germany. To be honest, it is hard to have a conversation with a German without them correcting you every 10 seconds.

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Konterbier ("counter beer”): A beer that Germans are having for breakfast after a party night with the intent to ease their hangover


Germany is known as the land of great scientists. It is also known as the land of wild and rampant alcohol consumption. So unsurprisingly, some smart Germans have come up with great life hacks to keep your hangover in check.

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Korinthenkacker: When you are overly pedantic, Germans will call you a "currant pooper"


It is quite hard to tell what exactly is the point of this word. When I think about it, it might refer to a person who does not take an uncontrolled dump, but defecates in small, perfectly even-sized portions.

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The word comes from a time when the Germans streets were still dominated by horse-drawn carriages – and the tons of excrements they left behind.

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Kuhkaff ("cow dump"): An extremely small and dull village where cows make up the largest partof the population


If you really want to experience Germany, you need to visit not only its big cities, but also its smallest villages. Like Gröde, for example, with its 11 inhabitants—a real “Kaff”!

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Kummerspeck ("sorrow bacon"): German has an extra word for the weight you gain when you are feeling down


I am sure we have all had our fair share of painful breakups. More often than not, the grief is so strong that it moves from the soul into the body and becomes apparent in the form of drastic weight changes.

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Ladenhüter (“shop guard”): That‘s how Germans refer to a product that sells very poorly


What do Lady Gaga’s Artpop album, Windows Vista and Chrystal Pepsi have in common? They were all gathering dust on the retail shelves without many people taking any interest in them.

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Leberkäse: This meat dish traditionally contains neither liver nor cheese, which puts my Sprachgefühl to a serious test


It is believed that the name derives from the Bavarian word “Kas,” which describes an edible mass, and the word “Leib” which means “loaf”. And this is where it start to make sense all of a sudden.

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Leichenschmaus: A funeral reception is called a “corpse feast” in German


I remember finding the word Leichenschmaus extremely off-putting when I was a kid and could not believe that a concept like this even existed. But it does indeed, and no, it is not linked to cannibalism…

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Lizenzieren (“to license”): The most commonly misspelled word in the German language


We all agree that German grammar was made by the devil himself—and he was not in a good mood. When it comes to spelling, however, the language is far less diabolic. Except for some cases….

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Mahlzeit: To this day, there are people in Germany who greet around noon by shouting “meal” at each other


It’s an expression that I can hardly believe has survived into the present day because it sounds so utterly bizarre. Nevertheless, you still hear it from time to time, especially in larger companies.

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Maurermarmelade: If it’s too boring for you to say Mett, you can also call it “bricklayers’ jam.”


Many nations have their nasty delicacies. The French have Roquefort cheese. The Mexicans have fried locusts. The Americans have pineapples on their pizzas. Germans, however, have Mettbrötchen.

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Meerbusen: A gulf is literally called a "sea boob" in German.


Of, course, there is a good reason for this. The word Meerbusen is a loan translation of the Latin “sinus maritimus.” The word “sinus” can refer to both a bay and… well… a breast.

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Milchmädchenrechnung: That‘s how Germans refer to an assumption that makes sense only at first glance but turns out to be a naive fallacy


There are people out there who drive 120 kilometers from Berlin across the Polish border because Pjotr gives them a trendy bob haircut super cheap. A classic example for a “Milchmädchenrechnung”

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Mitesser ("eating companion"): That‘s how Germans refer to a blackhead and I think it‘s...quite a disgusting idea actually


The term “Mitesser” first appeared in a dictionary at the end of the 17th century. The expression refers to the widespread belief at the time that diseases were mainly due to parasites.

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Muffensausen: The anxiety that you feel before a challenging situation—like a date or an exam


Imagine you have a very promising date—but instead of being full of anticipation, you feel strangely stressed, almost paralyzed. That’s the kind of anxiety that Germans call “Muffensausen”

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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.

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