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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Handschuh: A glove is simply called a “hand shoe” in German and I think every other language in the world should steal this concept


Why on earth would anyone bother creating an extra name for this clothing item without the ingenious shoe reference?

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Kuhkaff ("cow dump"): An extremely small and dull village where cows make up the largest partof the population


If you really want to experience Germany, you need to visit not only its big cities, but also its smallest villages. Like Gröde, for example, with its 11 inhabitants—a real “Kaff”!

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Arschkarte: When you are in the least fortunate position, Germans will say you have “pulled the ass card”.


The origin of this idiom is not entirely clear. However, many believe that there is a connection to the red card in team sports like soccer.

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Stinkstiefel: If you are grouchy and spreading bad vibes all the time, Germans will call you a “stinky boot”


Many people think that Germany is a nation of grumpy sourpusses who spend most of their free time demonizing their fate. True “Stinkstiefel”, in other words.

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Leberkäse: This meat dish traditionally contains neither liver nor cheese, which puts my Sprachgefühl to a serious test


It is believed that the name derives from the Bavarian word “Kas,” which describes an edible mass, and the word “Leib” which means “loaf”. And this is where it start to make sense all of a sudden.

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Filmriss: When you can’t remember what happened last night because you were too drunk, Germans will say you have a “film tear”


It’s important to know your limit so that exactly something like a Filmriss never happens. It’s not remotely pleasant to text your friends the next day in a panic to ask what on earth you’ve been up to.

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Fremdscham: The unpleasant feeling of empathy when someone is making a fool of him/herself in front of your eyes


Have you ever witnessed a guy desperately trying to make a move on a girl who is at least 2 levels too hot and obviously not interested? Or a spectacularly unfunny comedian on stage?

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Korinthenkacker: When you are overly pedantic, Germans will call you a "currant pooper"


It is quite hard to tell what exactly is the point of this word. When I think about it, it might refer to a person who does not take an uncontrolled dump, but defecates in small, perfectly even-sized portions.

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Angstschweiß has a record-breaking 8 consonants in a row - no other German word has more


The German language is notorious for the humongous amount of consonant you can string together. However, there seams to be a consensus that 8 is the maximum.

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Fettnäpfchen: If you offend someone by making a thoughtless remark, Germans will say you have “stepped into the grease bowl”


It’s what you might call a classic “Faux pas”. Like when you made that stupid fat joke in front of your overweight colleague. Or when you offered a cigarette to an asthmatic. 

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Aufbrezeln ("to pretzel up")


Everyone knows that one lady who is always dressed a little too lavishly and always has a little too much makeup on her face – even in completely inappropriate situations.

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When you order this strange sounding dish in German restaurants, you will be served a slice of meat loaf

Falscher Hase

We Germans are very straightforward people. We really don’t have a reputation for pretending. So how can it be that we supposedly fake something in our kitchen of all places?

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Schenkelklopfer: A joke that will make you laugh so hard you'll slap your thighs


Germany has a difficult relationship with humor. Nevertheless there is a bewilderingly large number of words for a joke: Witz, Scherz, Ulk, Jux, Flachs, and Kalauer are just 6 of the many examples.

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Dachschaden: If you are acting stupid, Germans will say you have a “roof damage”


The creativity of a language is largely defined by the quality of its insults. And of these, the German language has a great selection for every occasion and intensity. Especially for everyday swearing, there are some real gems on offer.

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Ehrenrunde: If you have to repeat a year at school in Germany, you are “running a victory lap”


Winston Churchill did it – and so did former German President Christian Wulff as well as Thomas Mann, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. And Eminem, of course.

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Drehwurm: When you feel dizzy after riding a carousel, you literally have a “spin worm” in Germany


Drehwurm may sound like one of these jolly modern neologisms. However, the word has a serious and somewhat sinister background. There is actually a species that is popularly called Drehwurm, which is not a nice one.

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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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