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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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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Hüftgold: That‘s how Germans call the excess fat around their waists and I think it‘s one of the coolest euphemisms ever


“A man without a belly is a cripple”. That’s what my grandma used to say when I refused to eat. When it comes to justifying the excess pounds, we Germans are overwhelmingly creative.

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Nonnenfürzle: There is a traditional southern German carnival pastry whose name translates to “a nun‘s little farts”


Granted, not everyone in Germany knows this sweet dish – at least if they live north of Swabia where Nonnenfürzle originated from. However, its hilarious name and backstory make it just to good not mention. 

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Einen Korb kriegen: When you are rejected by your crush in Germany, you literally "get a basket".

Einen Korb kriegen

The phrase “einen Korb kriegen” is very commonly used in Germany to describe the situation where someone is rejected. Originally, this expression developed from a medieval custom.

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Mutterkuchen: The German word for placenta literally traslates to “mother‘s cake”


The word generously ignores the fact that the placenta actually bears more resemblance to a steak tartare. Interestingly, the word “placenta” itself is cognate to German “Plätzchen”, meaning small biscuits.

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Schnapszahl: That's how Germans call a number that is composed by a sequence of the same digit


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. 

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Dachshund, Kindergarten, Sauerkraut, Wunderkind: There are more than 400 German loan words in English

German loan words 

German loan words are used not only the French and Arabic speaking world, but also in distant places like Papua New Guinea, Kenia or Korea. First and foremost however, the English language is literally packed with them.

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Backpfeifengesicht ("cheek whistle face"): Someone who makes you feel the desire to punch him in the face just by looking at him


Backpfeifengesicht is a perfect example of creative insults that the German language has on offer. It is highly effective, yet innocent enough to not have you bleeped out.

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Schlitzohr ("slit ear"): That's how Germans call a rascal or someone who is not trustworthy


Everyone knows that one guy you wouldn’t buy a used car from. I don’t mean like a convicted criminal. More that Moe Szyslak type of person. That’s what Germans like to call a “Schlitzohr”.

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Saftladen ("juice shop"): That's how Germans call any kind of poorly run business


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. 

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Schnitzeljagd: This is how you call a game of treasure hunt in German


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 😉

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Vorglühen: To have some drinks before a party with a few close friends


“Vorglühen” usually takes place at the home of whoever lives closest to the party. The trick is to get just that tiny bit tipsy without feeling drunk yet.

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Feuerzeug: A cigarette lighter is simply called a "fire thing" in German


The German language seems to have an obscure obsession with “things”. You can describe virtually any type of device by combine the word Zeug (“thing”) with the actual purpose of the object.

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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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