Nullachtfünfzehn: When something is very average and not worth talking about, Germans say it's “zero eight fifteen”

literally: “zero-eight-fifteen” / meaning: very average, not worth mentioning

Germany is not really seen as a country of individualists. So you might think that for citizens of the Federal Republic, it’s some sort of compliment if something is described as “quite normal” and “without any eye-catching features.”

However, in the case of the term nullachtfünfzehn—often also written as 08/15— the meaning is clearly a negative one. Germans use it to describe something that is downright boring due to its plainness and doesn’t lure anyone out from behind the stove. So if someone comes up with the idea of serving good old Rotkäppchensekt at a grand gala, he has to take the blame for offering a “zero-eight-fifteen” drink.

The expression is linked to the MG 08/15 machine gun from World War I. Firstly, soldiers had to go through standard, monotonous training with the device every day—a boring routine, so to speak. Secondly, the quality of this killing machine was regarded as mediocre at best. I’ll refrain from making a joke now about how the Germans lost the war.


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

For more language weirdness, check the brand new “German is weird” book. 

Related Weirdness

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!

Weirdest Articles
Instagram Feed