Dictionary of Weirdness
Tote Oma: There is a classic East German dish whose name translates to "dead grandma"

Tote Oma

This one is a real GDR classic. It dates back to socialist times when many products were scarce and housewives had to try to put something tasty on the table for their family with the means at hand.

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Trostpflaster ("patch of solace"): A small, usually insignificant compensation for a great disappointment.

Trostpflaster

The term is also frequently used in sports: For example, soccer fans often refer to the entire Europa League as a “Trostpflaster” for clubs that did’t make it to the Champions League. 

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Verschlimmbessern: German has an extra word for “making something worse by trying to improve it,” and I think every language in the world needs something like this!

verschlimmbessern

If you haven’t had an idea of what “verschlimmbessern” means—just think about the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee in soccer that wiped out a lot of the emotions without really making the game any more fair after all.

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Versuchskaninchen: When you are used for an experiment, you are not a "guinea pig" in Germany, but a "test rabbit"

Versuchskaninchen

This term is used quite loosely and frequently in German. For instance, if you try a new recipe on a friend – before you might embarrass yourself in front of your date – he is your Versuchskaninchen.

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Vorglühen: To have some drinks before a party with a few close friends

Vorglühen

“Vorglühen” usually takes place at the home of whoever lives closest to the party. The trick is to get just that tiny bit tipsy without feeling drunk yet.

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Welpenschutz (“puppy protection”): That’s what Germans call the special kind of leniency that newcomers are treated with.

Welpenschutz

It’s the grace period or the leniency shown to someone due to their inexperience, much like how you wouldn’t be mad at a puppy for chewing up your shoe.

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Wirtschaft: You know that a language is awesome when the word for ‘economy’ can also mean ‘pub’

Wirtschaft

Back in the days, when I watched my father reading the Wirtschaftsnachrichten („economy news“), I honestly thought he was trying to get informed about new restaurants in town.

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Wollmaus: A dustball on the floor is called a “woolen mouse” in German

Wollmaus

Germans spend around two and a half hours a week cleaning their homes. That doesn’t quite live up to their reputation as cleanliness fanatics.

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Wonneproppen (roughly: “bliss plug”): That‘s how Germans often refer to a littlechild who is chubbyin a cute way

Wonneproppen

A toddler needs a little bit of puppy fat to really appear adorable. This sparks a feeling in us of wanting to pinch his well-fed cheek and say, “Was für ein Wonneproppen!“

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Zahnfleisch: The German word for gums literally translates to “tooth flesh“

Zahnfleisch

Well, you won’t disagree that this is another one of these words that makes perfect sense if you think about it. It simply describes the fleshy tissue surrounding your teeth. Ergo: tooth flesh.

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Zielwasser ("aiming water"): That’s how Germans refer to an alcoholic beverage that you drink with the intent to improve your aiming skills.

Zielwasser

The word describes a little schnaps that Germans drink whenever they need a good aim—like bowling, minigolf, or a shooting gallery at Oktoberfest.

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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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