Literally: “tooth flesh” / meaning: “gums”
The word Zahnfleisch may sound a bit goofy to English speakers—especially in its direct translation “tooth flesh,” or even funnier, “tooth meat.”
Yet, it is so logical: It simply describes the fleshy tissue around the teeth. Speaking of goofy, I always thought that people must be kidding me when I first heard the English word “gums.” Sounds like something you would chew on, rather than use for chewing in some way. I looked it up and found out that it is cognate to the German word Gaumen (“palate”), which is where it starts to make sense again.
Virtually all Germanic languages except English use a similar concept when referring to their gums: Danish “tandkød,” Dutch “tandvlees” and Icelandic “tannhold” all literally translate to “tooth flesh” or “tooth meat.” My favorite however is the Esperanto term “dentokarno”—and if you find that as hilarious as I do, congratulations, you are an incurable language nerd.