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The word comes from a time when the Germans streets were still dominated by horse-drawn carriages – and the tons of excrements they left behind.

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Staubsauger: "A vacuum cleaner is called a “dust sucker” in German, and without any doubt, that’s an objectively better name."


Just to get that right out of the way: “vacuum cleaner” is a crappy term, as my new Dyson does not clean vacuums, but carpets. In contrast, the German counterpart Staubsauger scores with perfect simplicity.

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Klobrille: Germans call their toilet seats “loo glasses”


Despite the creative and somewhat funny name for our favorite thrones, the actual toilet design in Germany is usually pretty straightforward.

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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”


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


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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Klammeraffe ("spider monkey"): That’s how Germans used to call the @-sign and I really wonder why no one uses this adorable name anymore


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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Erdmöbel ("earth furniture"): A charmingly bureaucratic word for “casket” that originated in communist East Germany


The GDR existed for 40 years. Long enough to leave traces in language. Probably the best-known example is the “anti-fascist protective wall” – a.k.a. “Die Mauer.”

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Fahrstuhl: An elevator is called a “drive chair” in German,though I have never seenanyone sitting in there


I have witnessed people doing the weirdest stuff inside an elevator. Sitting on the floor and taking a rest is not one of them.

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Ladenhüter (“shop guard”): That‘s how Germans refer to a product that sells very poorly


What do Lady Gaga’s Artpop album, Windows Vista and Chrystal Pepsi have in common? They were all gathering dust on the retail shelves without many people taking any interest in them.

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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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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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