Kotflügel

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.

Arschfax

When the care label of your slip is showing, Germans will say you are “receiving an ass fax”

It’s every foreign intern’s nemesis in Germany: this old-fashioned communication device that looks like a discarded push-button telephone has banged a printer.

Schnapszahl

Schnapszahl ("booze number"): This is what Germans call a number that is composed of a sequence of identical digits.

You know why Schnapszahl is something like the perfect German word? Because it combines two of German’s greatest passions: the passion for booze… and the passion for order. 

Staubsauger

Staubsauger: "A vacuum cleaner is called a “dust sucker” in German, and without any doubt, that’s an objectively better name."

Just to get that right out of the way: “vacuum cleaner” is a crappy term, as my new Dyson does not clean vacuums, but carpets. In contrast, the German counterpart Staubsauger scores with perfect simplicity.

Bauchpinseln

Bauchpinseln: When you flatter someone to get in their favor, Germans will say you are “belly-brushing” that person

A German proverb says: “Not complaining is enough praise.” We are truly not the masters of lavishing compliments. However, the concept of using feigned compliments as a weapon to win someone’s favor isn’t beyond a German’s reach.

Wirtschaft

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

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.

Brustwarze

Granted, the English equivalent “nipple” is not a happy choice either. But at least, it does not sound like something that you would immediately run to a dermatologist with. 

Saftladen

Saftladen: When a business is poorly run, Germans like to say it's a "juice shop"

Oddly enough, a company does not need to be a shop nor particularly “juicy” in order to be called this way. The term just refers to any company that appears poorly organized or unpleasant in any other way. 

Schnitzeljagd

Schnitzeljagd ("hunt for Schnitzels"): That’s what Germans call a game of treasure hunt.

I remember birthday parties where we had to walk through our town and follow clues to find a treasure. I also remember my birthdays being in February and everyone having a cold the next day 😉

Scheißtage

Scheißtage: During the "crap days", German workers had to work for free to compensate for the time they have on the toilet the months before.

There are memorial days for pretty much every kind of nonsense – from “International Lost Socks Memorial Day” or “Wiggle Your Toes Day.” However, the “Crap Days” in Germany were a real thing, and pretty severe for the ones they affected.