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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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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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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Gänsewein: When you only have a glass of water with your meal, Germans will say you are drinking 'goose wine"

Gänsewein

A fine dinner without alcohol? This is hardly thinkable for many Germans. People from the Federal Republic tend to consider a glass of beer or wine an essential part of the meal.

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

Maurermarmelade

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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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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Kabelsalat: When your wires are all tangled and cluttered, Germans will say you have “cable salad”

Kabelsalat

The German word Salat is a tricky one, as it refers both to a salad and the typical ingredients a salad is usually made of, i.e. lettuce. It also conveys a connotation of chaos or disorder, like in this case.

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"Jein": German gives you the power to say yes and no at the same time with just four letters.

Jein

“Did you watch the German national team game yesterday” – “Jein. I left the TV on. But my Tinder date came to visit, so I didn’t catch that much of it.”

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

Mahlzeit

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

Konterbier

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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Sitzfleisch ("sitting meat"): “the ability to stay in a sedentary position for an extended period of time”

Sitzfleisch

Just about everyone has made the experience that it’s not always easy to get a visitor to clear the place out. Especially when there’s still beer in the fridge. 

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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

Klammeraffe

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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Bergfest ("mountain celebration"): German has an extra word for “the chronological center of a stressful process”

Bergfest

For the Oktoberfest, Germans have to wait a whole year. So it helps a lot that there is a festivity that they can celebrate every week, all without being forced to wear Dirndl and Lederhosen.

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Glückspilz (“lucky mushroom”): That’s how Germans refer to a person who is always on the fortunate side

Glückspilz

What does a German actually need to be happy? According to a study from 2020, the job is the most important factor—how could it be any different?

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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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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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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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