German is weird: A blog about the curiosities of the German language

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

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Flitzekacke: If it's too boring for you to say diarrhea in Germany, you can also say "speedy poop"

Flitzekacke

Disclaimer: Better not read this before lunch. To all of you who are still with me, I will take you on a journey to the wonderful world of German diarrhea…

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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”

Kirschgrün

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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There is no doubt that “news greed” is the simplest and coolest way to translate curiosity

Neugier

The word does not only describe snooping behavior, but also factors such as a thirst for knowledge and the desire to explore new subjects.

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Arschgeweih: A lower back tattoo is literally called "ass antlers" in German

Arschgeweih

The term Arschgeweih has been part of popular culture in the early 2000s – there was even an election for “Miss Arschgeweih” conducted by Germany’s biggest daily newspaper “Bild“. 

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

Meerbusen

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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sturmfrei (“storm-free”): The state where no parents are at home and kids are free to do whatever they want.

sturmfrei

Sturmfrei is one of these German terms for which dictionaries do not even offer a vague equivalent. It does not only describe a certain state, but a special feeling where you really intend to use this temporary freedom.

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

Leichenschmaus

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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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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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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Fingerspitzengefühl ("finger-tip feeling"): A fine sense of how to act in delicate situations

Fingerspitzengefühl

The word describes a mixture of empathy, psychological sensitivity, politeness, and eloquence that is needed unless you want to create an awkward atmosphere.

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Pustekuchen: When a German shouts “blowcake” at you, it means they don’t agree in the slightest with what you just said

Pustekuchen!

“Dieses Jahr wird Bayern München die Meisterschaft verpassen”—„Pustekuchen! Das wird nicht passieren” (“This year, Bayern Munich will miss the championship”—“Blowcake! That’s not gonna happen”).

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Schnapsidee ("booze idea"): An idea so crazyyou can hardly imagine someone came up with it in a sober condition

Schnapsidee

If you ever texted your ex at 3 a.m. after you have just recovered from the breakup, you know that ideas you have under heavy alcohol influence are rarely worth imitating.

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Hamsterkauf ("hamster purchase"): That’s how Germans refer to panic buying. However, they tend to hoard toilet paper rather than pets.

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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Eselsbrücke: When you are making up a little memory hook, Germans will say you are building a “donkey bridge”

Eselsbrücke

It has probably nothing to do with donkeys being stupid, but rather a bit stubborn. They refuse to wade through water – so their owners have to build an improvised bridge to make them cross a creek.

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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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