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Outline of German expressions in English

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Outline of German expressions in English

The following outline is presented as an overview of and topical guide to German expressions in English:

German expression in EnglishGerman loanword, term, phrase, or quotation incorporated into the English language. A loanword is a word borrowed from a donor language and incorporated into a recipient language without translation. It is distinguished from a calque, or loan translation, where a meaning or idiom from another language is translated into existing words or roots of the host language. Some of the expressions are relatively common (e.g. hamburger), but most are comparatively rare. In many cases the loanword has assumed a meaning substantially different from its German forebear.

English and German both are West Germanic languages, though their relationship has been obscured by the lexical influence of Old Norse and Norman French (as a consequence of the Norman conquest of England in 1066) on English as well as the High German consonant shift. In recent years, however, many English words have been borrowed directly from German. Typically, English spellings of German loanwords suppress any umlauts (the superscript, double-dot diacritic in Ä, Ö, Ü, ä, ö and ü) of the original word or replace the umlaut letters with Ae, Oe, Ue, ae, oe, ue, respectively (as is done commonly in German speaking countries when the umlaut is not available; the origin of the umlaut was a superscript E).

German words have been incorporated into English usage for many reasons:

  • German cultural artifacts, especially foods, have spread to English-speaking nations and often are identified either by their original German names or by German-sounding English names
  • Developments and discoveries in German-speaking nations in science, scholarship, and classical music have led to German words for new concepts, which have been adopted into English: for example the words doppelgänger and angst in psychology.
  • Discussion of German history and culture requires some German words.
  • Some German words are used in English narrative to identify that the subject expressed is in German, e.g. Frau, Reich.

As languages, English and German descend from the common ancestor language West Germanic and further back to Proto-Germanic; because of this, some English words are essentially identical to their German lexical counterparts, either in spelling (Hand, Sand, Finger) or pronunciation (fish = Fisch, mouse = Maus), or both (Arm, Ring); these are excluded from this list.

German common nouns adopted into English are in general not initially capitalised, and the ß is generally changed to ss.


  • German terms commonly used in English 1
    • Food and drink 1.1
    • Sports and recreation 1.2
    • Other aspects of everyday life 1.3
  • German terms common in English academic context 2
    • Academia 2.1
    • Architecture 2.2
    • Arts 2.3
      • Heraldry 2.3.1
      • Music 2.3.2
        • Genres
        • Selected works in classical music
        • Carols
        • Modern songs
      • Theatre 2.3.3
      • Typography 2.3.4
    • Biology 2.4
    • Chess 2.5
    • Economics 2.6
    • Geography 2.7
    • Geology 2.8
    • History 2.9
      • The Third Reich 2.9.1
      • Other historical periods 2.9.2
    • Military terms 2.10
    • Linguistics 2.11
    • Literature 2.12
    • Mathematics and formal logic 2.13
    • Medicine 2.14
    • Philosophy 2.15
    • Physical sciences 2.16
    • Politics 2.17
    • Psychology 2.18
    • Sociology 2.19
    • Theology 2.20
  • German terms mostly used for literary effect 3
  • Terms rarely used in English 4
  • German quotations used in English 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Literature 8
  • External links 9

German terms commonly used in English

Most of these words will be recognized by many English speakers; they are commonly used in English contexts. Some, such as wurst and pumpernickel, retain German connotations, while others, such as lager and hamburger, retain none. Not every word is recognizable outside its relevant context. A number of these expressions are used in American English, under the influence of German immigration, but not in British English.

Food and drink

  • Berliner Weisse, sour beer infused with fruit syrup (German spelling: Berliner Weiße)
  • Biergarten, open-air drinking establishment
  • Braunschweiger, a liverwurst cold-cut (though in Germany "Braunschweiger" describes a smoked ground beef sausage)
  • Bratwurst (sometimes abbrev. brat), type of frying sausage
  • Budweiser, beer, after Budweis, the German name of Budějovice, a city in Southern Bohemia
  • Bundt cake, a ring cake (from Bundkuchen – if you want to get one in Germany, better order a Gug(e)lhupf)
  • Delicatessen, speciality food retailer, fine foods (modern German spelling Delikatessen)
  • Frankfurter, type of sausage, usually called a "Frank" or "Frankfurt" in English use.
  • Gummi bear, also found with the Anglicized spelling gummy bear, German spelling: Gummibär
  • Hamburger, sandwich with a meat patty and garnishments
  • Hasenpfeffer, type of rabbit (or hare) stew
  • Hefeweizen, unfiltered wheat beer (containing yeast)
  • Kipfel, also kipferl, a horn-shaped type of pastry
  • Kirschwasser, spirit drink made from cherries (hard liquor / booze)
  • Knackwurst, cooked sausage
  • Kohlrabi, type of cabbage (aka cabbage turnip)
  • Lager, beer made with bottom-fermenting yeast and stored for some time before serving (in Germany, you'd rather order an Export).
  • Leberwurst, pork-liver sausage
  • Maß, a unit of volume used for measuring beer; typically 1 litre (0.22 imp gal; 0.26 US gal), but probably evolved from the old Bavarian unit of measure (Maßeinheit) called Quartl (quart).
  • Muesli, breakfast cereal (Swiss German spelling: Müesli, standard German: Müsli)
  • Pfeffernüsse, peppernuts
  • Pilsener (or Pils, Pilsner), pale lager beer named after Pilsen, the German name of Plzeň, a city in Western Bohemia; contains higher amounts of hops than usual Lager (or Export) beer, and therefore is a tad more bitter.
  • Pretzel (Standard German spelling: Brezel), flour and yeast based pastry
  • Pumpernickel, type of sourdough rye bread, strongly flavoured, dense, and dark in colour
  • Quark, a type of fresh cheese (curd)
  • Radler, a mixture of beer and lemonade
  • Rollmops, rolled, pickled herring fillet
  • Sauerkraut (sometimes shortened to Kraut, which in German would mean cabbage in general), fermented cabbage
  • Schmalz, lard (rendered fat of animal origin), from Old High German smalz [1]
  • Schnapps (German spelling: Schnaps), distilled alcoholic drink (hard liquor, booze)
  • Spritzer, chilled drink from white wine and soda water (from spritzen = to spray; the term is most commonly used in Vienna and its surroundings; elsewhere in Austria: "Mischung"; in Germany: "(Wein-)Schorle", rarely "Gespritzter")
  • Stein, large drinking mug, usually for beer (from Steingut = earthenware, referring to the material); proper German word: Steinkrug (earthenware jug).
  • Streusel, crumb topping on a cake
  • Strudel (e. g. Apfelstrudel, milk-cream strudel), a filled pastry
  • Wiener, hot dog (from Wiener Würstchen = Viennese sausage)
  • Wiener Schnitzel, crumbed veal cutlet
  • Wurst, sausage, cold cuts
  • Zwieback, a "twice baked" bread; rusk, variants: German hard biscuits; Mennonite double yeast roll

Sports and recreation

  • Abseil (German spelling: sich abseilen, a reflexive verb, to rope (seil) oneself (sich) down (ab)); the term abseiling is used in the UK and Commonwealth countries, "roping (down)" in various English settings, and "rappelling" in the US.
  • Blitz, taken from Blitzkrieg (lightning war). It is a team defensive play in American or Canadian football in which the defense sends more players than the offense can block. The term Blitzkrieg was originally used in Nazi Germany during World War 2, describing a dedicated kind of fast and ferocious attack.
  • Foosball, probably from the German word for table football, Tischfußball,[2] although foosball itself is referred to as Kicker or Tischfußball in German. Fußball is the word for soccer in general.
  • Karabiner, snaplink, a metal loop with a sprung or screwed gate, used in climbing and mountaineering; modern short form/derivation of the older word 'Karabinerhaken'; translates to 'riflehook'. The German word can also mean a Carbine firearm.
  • Kutte (literally frock or cowl), a type of vest made out of denim or leather and traditionally worn by bikers, metalheads and punks; in German the word also refers to the clothes of monks.[3]
  • Kletterschuh, climbing shoe (mountaineering)
  • Mannschaft, German word for a sports team.
  • Rucksack (more commonly called a backpack in U.S. English)
  • Schuss, literally: shot (ski) down a slope at high speed; German term: Schussfahrt, as Schuss alone typically means Shot ("schießen" = "to shoot")
  • Turner, a gymnast
  • club or society
  • Volksmarsch / Volkssport / Volkswanderung, people's march / popular sports (competitive) / people migrating

Other aspects of everyday life

  • –bahn as a suffix, e.g. Infobahn, after Autobahn
  • Blücher, a half-boot named after Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742–1819); also a hand in the British card game Napoleon.
  • Dachshund, literally badger dog; a dog breed (usually referred to as Dackel in German usage)
  • Doberman Pinscher, a dog breed (usually referred to as Dobermann in German)
  • Doppelgänger, literally double-goer, also spelled in English as doppelgaenger; a double or look-alike. However, in English the connotation is that of a ghostly apparition of a duplicate living person.
  • Dreck, literally dirt or smut, but now meaning trashy, awful (through Yiddish, OED s.v.)
  • Dummkopf, literally stupid head; a stupid, ignorant person, similar to numbskull in English
  • erlaubt, allowed, granted - opposite of verboten.
  • Ersatz, replacement; usually implying an artificial and inferior substitute or imitation. The German word has a neutral connotation, e.g. Ersatzrad simply means "spare wheel" (not an inferior one).
  • Fest, festival
  • Flak, Flugabwehrkanone, literally: air-defence cannon, for anti-aircraft artillery or their shells, also used in flak jacket; or in the figurative sense: "drawing flak" = being heavily criticized
  • Gemütlichkeit, coziness
  • Gesundheit, literally health; an exclamation used in place of "bless you!" after someone has sneezed
  • Hausfrau, pejorative: frumpy, petty-bourgeois, traditional, pre-emancipation type housewife whose interests centre on the home, or who is even exclusively interested in domestic matters (colloquial, American English only), sometimes humorously used to replace "wife", but with the same mildly derisive connotation. The German word has a neutral connotation.
  • Kaffeeklatsch, literally coffee gossip; afternoon meeting where people (usually referring to women, particularly Hausfrauen) chitchat while drinking coffee or tea and having cake.
  • kaput (German spelling: kaputt), out-of-order, broken, dead
  • Kindergarten, literally children's garden; day-care centre, playschool, preschool
  • Kitsch, cheap, sentimental, gaudy items of popular culture
  • Kraft as in kraft paper the strong paper used to make sacks; Kraft in German just means strength or power.
  • Kraut, literally cabbage; derogatory term for a German
  • Lebensraum, literally living space; conquered territory, now exclusively associated with the Nazi Party in that historical context.
  • Lederhosen (short leather pants for men and boys, often worn with suspenders)
  • Meister, master, also as a suffix: –meister; in German, Meister typically refers to the highest educational rank of a craftsperson, nowadays aligned with the academic master degree.
  • Nazi, short for Nationalsozialist (National Socialist)
  • Neanderthal (modern German spelling: Neandertal), for German Neandertaler, meaning "of, from, or pertaining to the Neandertal ("Neander Valley")", the site near Düsseldorf where early Homo neanderthalensis fossils were found
  • nix, from German nix, dialectal variant of nichts (nothing)
  • Noodle, from German Nudel, a type of food; a string of pasta.
  • Oktoberfest, Bavarian folk festival held annually in Munich during late September and early October
  • Poltergeist, literally noisy ghost; an alleged paranormal phenomenon where objects appear to move of their own accord
  • Poodle, from German Pudel, breed of dog
  • Rottweiler, breed of dog
  • Schadenfreude, joy from pain (literally harm joy); delight at the misfortune of others
  • Scheiße, an expression and euphemism meaning "shit", usually as an interjection when something goes amiss
  • Schnauzer, breed of dog (though in German, Schnauzer could also be short for Schnauzbart, meaning moustache).
  • Siskin, several species of birds (from Sisschen, dialect for Zeisig)
  • Spiel, an attempt to present and explain a point in a way that the presenter has done often before, usually to sell something. A voluble line of often extravagant talk : pitch
  • Spitz, a breed of dog
  • Süffig, if a beverage is especially light and sweet or palatable; only the latter meaning is connoted with German süffig.
  • uber, über, over; used to indicate that something or someone is of better or superior magnitude, e.g. Übermensch
  • Ur– (German prefix), original or prototypical; e.g. Ursprache, Urtext
  • verboten, prohibited, forbidden, banned. In both English and German, this word has authoritarian connotations.
  • Volkswagen, literally people's car; brand of automobile
  • Wanderlust, the yearning to travel
  • Wiener, used pejoratively, signifying a spineless, weak person. In German, the term Würstchen (the diminutive form of Wurst), Wurst or rarely Wiener Würstchen (Vienna sausage) is used in its place.
  • Wunderkind, literally wonder child; a child prodigy
  • Zeitgeist, spirit of the time
  • Zeppelin, type of rigid airship named after its inventor

German terms common in English academic context

German terms sometimes appear in English academic disciplines, e.g. history, psychology, philosophy, music, and the physical sciences; laypeople in a given field may or may not be familiar with a given German term.


  • Ansatz, basic approach
  • Doktorvater, doctoral advisor
  • Festschrift, book prepared by colleagues to honor a scholar, often on an important birthday such as the sixtieth.
  • Gedenkschrift, memorial publication
  • Leitfaden, guideline
  • Methodenstreit, disagreement on methodology
  • Privatdozent, in German it describes a lecturer without professorship (typically requires German Habilitation degree).
  • Professoriat, the entity of all professors of a university


  • Bauhaus, a German style of architecture begun by Walter Gropius in 1918
  • Biedermeier, of or relating to a style of furniture developed in Germany in the 19th century; in German, it might also derogatively describe a certain old-fashioned, ultra-conservative interior styling
  • Hügelgrab, in archaeology, burial mound
  • Jugendstil, art nouveau
  • Pfostenschlitzmauer, in archaeology, a method of construction typical of prehistoric Celtic hillforts of the Iron Age
  • Plattenbau, building made from prefabricated slabs; a typical building style of the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, particularly associated with East Germany.
  • Viereckschanze, in archaeology, a Celtic fortification of the Iron Age




Selected works in classical music
Modern songs




  • Ahnenreihe, line of ancestors
  • Ahnenschwund, pedigree collapse
  • Ahnentafel, line of ancestors
  • Anlage in genetics; also used in the sense of primordium in embryology and temperament in psychology; literal meaning "disposition" or "rudiment"
  • Aufwuchs, growth
  • Aurochs (Modern German: Auerochse), urus
  • Bauplan, body plan of animals
  • Bereitschaftspotential, readiness potential
  • Edelweiss, German spelling Edelweiß, Leontopodium alpinum
  • Einkorn, Triticum boeoticum or Triticum monococcum, a type of wheat
  • Krummholz, crooked or bent wood due to growth conditions of trees and bushes
  • Lagerstätte, repository; sedimentary deposit rich in fossils
  • Lammergeier or lammergeyer (German: Lämmergeier, also Bartgeier), the bearded vulture
  • Molosser, a type of dog, literally Molossian, from Molossus, the name of an ancient dog breed which the modern molossers descend from
  • Oberhäutchen (often written oberhautchen in newer literature), the outermost layer of reptile skin; literally "small top skin" (Häutchen is the diminutive of Haut, the German word for "skin")
  • Schreckstoff, a chemical alarm signal emitted by fish
  • Spitzenkörper, structure important in hyphal growth
  • Unkenreflex, a defensive posture adopted by several branches of the amphibian class
  • Waldsterben, forest dieback
  • Zeitgeber (chronobiology), external clue that helps to synchronize the internal body clock
  • Zugunruhe (ornithology), pre-migration anxiety in birds and other migratory animals





Minerals including:


(Some terms are listed in multiple categories if they are important to each.)

The Third Reich

Other historical periods

Military terms

  • Blitzkrieg (literally "lightning war")
  • Fingerspitzengefühl (literally "finger-tip feeling", in German used to mean "empathy", "sensitivity" or "tact"): The ability of certain military commanders to understand and master a situation in detail thanks to intuition and a capability that allows having all relevant tactical information available in the mind, presumably in the form of a mental map.
  • Flak (Flugabwehrkanone), anti-aircraft gun (for derived meanings see under Other aspects of everyday life)
  • Fliegerhorst, another word for a military airport (Horst = predator bird's nest)
  • Karabiner, a carbine. For the climbing hardware, see carabiner above
  • Kriegsspiel, in English also written Kriegspiel, war game (different meanings)
  • Luftwaffe, air force (since WW II, with East Germany and the earlier German Empire using the term Luftstreitkräfte instead for their air services)
  • Panzer refers to tanks and other armored military vehicles, or formations of such vehicles
  • Panzerfaust, "tank fist": anti-tank weapon, a small one-man launcher and projectile.
  • Strafe, punishment, extracted from the slogan Gott strafe England (May God punish England)
  • U-Boot (abbreviated form of Unterseeboot — submarine, but commonly called U-Boot in Germany as well)
  • Vernichtungsgedanke (thought of annihilation)


  • Ablaut
  • Abstandsprache
  • Aktionsart
  • Ausbausprache
  • Dachsprache
  • Dreimorengesetz, "three-mora law", the rule for placing stress in Latin
  • einzelsprachlich (belonging to a single language; in historical linguistics, referring to single dialects or branches within a language family, or a relatively recent period in language development as opposed to the proto-language stage of a family)
  • Gleichsetzung or Gleichung, "equation" (of cognates, in etymology)
  • Grammatischer Wechsel, "grammatical alternation", a pattern of consonant alternations found in Germanic strong verbs and also in Germanic nouns
  • Grenzsignal, "boundary signal"
  • Gruppenflexion, "group inflection", the attachment of an affix to an entire phrase instead of individual words
  • Junggrammatiker, literally "Young Grammarians", a formative German school of linguists in the late 19th century
  • Loanword (ironically not a loanword but rather a calque from German Lehnwort)
  • Mischsprache, mixed language
  • Nebenüberlieferung or "secondary transmission", linguistic material such as names (place-names, personal names etc.), loanwords or glosses from a particular language found in texts composed in other languages (e. g., Hesychius' glossary)
  • Primärberührung, "primary contact", the development of certain consonant clusters (stop consonant + /t/) in Proto-Germanic
  • Rückumlaut, "reverse umlaut", a regular pattern of vowel alternation (of independent origin from usual ablaut patterns) in a small number of Germanic weak verbs
  • Sitz im Leben (Biblical linguistics mainly; the study of pragmatics has a similar approach)
  • Sprachbund, "language union", a group of languages that have become similar because of geographical proximity
  • Sprachgefühl, the intuitive sense of what is appropriate in a language
  • Sprachraum
  • sprachwirklich (said of words and structures: actually attested as opposed to, e. g., merely postulated on theoretical grounds, or as opposed to artificial coinages and inventions by ancient grammarians that were never used in reality)
  • Sprechbund, "speech bond", a term from sociolinguistics
  • Stammbaumtheorie, also Stammbaum alone, for a phylogenetical tree of languages
  • Suffixaufnahme
  • Trümmersprache, fragmentarily attested language
  • Umlaut
  • Urheimat, "original homeland", the area originally inhabited by speakers of a (reconstructed) proto-language
  • Ursprache, "proto-language"
  • Verschärfung, "sharpening", several analogous phonetic changes in Gothic, North Germanic and modern Faroese
  • Wanderwort, "migratory term/word", a word which spreads from its original language into several others
  • Winkelhaken, a basic element in the ancient cuneiform script


Mathematics and formal logic



Physical sciences



  • Aha-Erlebnis (lit."aha experience), a sudden insight or epiphany, compare eureka
  • Angst, feeling of fear, but more deeply and without concrete object
  • Eigengrau (lit. "intrinsic grey") or also Eigenlicht, "intrinsic light", the colour seen by the eye in perfect darkness
  • Einstellung effect, from Einstellung, which means "attitude" here
  • Erlebnis, from 'Erleben' experience, meaning a lived through conscious experience
  • Ganzfeld effect, from German Ganzfeld for "complete field", a phenomenon of visual perception
  • Gestalt psychology, (German spelling: Gestaltpsychologie), holistic psychology
  • Merkwelt, "way of viewing the world", "peculiar individual consciousness"
  • Schadenfreude, gloating, a malicious satisfaction obtained from the misfortunes of others
  • Sorge, a state of worry, but (like Angst) in a less concrete, more general sense, worry about the world, one's future, etc.
  • Umwelt, environment, literally: "surrounding world"; in semiotics, "self-centred world"
  • Weltschmerz, "world-pain", kind of feeling experienced by someone who understands that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind
  • Wunderkind, child prodigy
  • Zeitgeber (lit. "time-giver"), something that resets the circadian clock found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus



  • Gattung, genre [8][9][10][11]
  • Heilsgeschichte (salvation history, God's positive saving actions throughout history)
  • Kunstprosa, artistic prose[12][13][14][15]
  • Sitz im Leben (setting in life, context)

German terms mostly used for literary effect

There are a few terms which are recognised by many English speakers but are usually only used to deliberately evoke a German context:

  • Autobahn — particularly common in British English and American English referring specifically to German motorways.
  • Achtung — lit. "attention"
  • Frau and Fräulein — Woman and young woman or girl, respectively, in English. Indicating marital state, with Frau — Mrs. and Fräulein — Miss; in Germany, however, the diminutive Fräulein lapsed from common usage in the late 1960s. Regardless of marital status, a woman is now commonly referred to as Frau, because from 1972 the term Fräulein has been officially phased out for being politically incorrect and should only be used if expressly authorized by the woman concerned.
  • Führer (umlaut is usually dropped in English) — always used in English to denote Hitler or to connote a Fascistic leader — never used, as is possible in German, simply and unironically to denote a (non-Fascist) leader or guide, (e.g. Bergführer: mountain guide, Stadtführer: city guide (book), Führerschein: driving licence, Geschäftsführer: managing director, Flugzeugführer: Pilot in command)
  • Gott mit uns (means "God be with us" in German), the motto of the Prussian king, it was used as a morale slogan amongst soldiers in both World Wars. It was bastardized as "Got mittens" by American and British soldiers, and is usually used nowadays, because of the German defeat in both wars, derisively to mean that wars are not won on religious grounds.
  • Hände hoch — "hands up"
  • Herr In modern German either the equivalent of Mr. (Mister), to address an adult man, or "master" over something or someone (e.g. Sein eigener Herr sein: to be his own master). Derived from the adjective hehr, meaning "honourable" or "senior", it was historically a nobleman's title, equivalent to "Lord". (Herr der Fliegen is the German title of Lord of the Flies.) In a religious context it refers to God.
  • Ich bin ein Berliner, famous quotation by John F. Kennedy
  • Leitmotif (German spelling: Leitmotiv) Any sort of recurring theme, whether in music, literature, or the life of a fictional character or a real person.
  • Meister — used as a suffix to mean expert (Maurermeister), or master; in Germany it means also champion in sports (Weltmeister, Europameister, Landesmeister)
  • Nein — no
  • Raus — meaning Out! — shortened (colloquial) (depending on where the speaker is, if on the inside "get out!" = hinaus, if on the outside "come out!" = heraus). It is the imperative form of the German verb herauskommen (coming out (of a room/house/etc.) as in the imperative "komm raus"!).[16]
  • Reich — from the Middle High German "rich", as a noun it means "empire" or "realm", cf the English word "bishopric". In titles as part of a compound noun, for example "Deutsche Reichsbahn", it is equivalent to the English word "national" (German National Railway), or "Reichspost" (National Postal Service). To some English speakers, Reich strongly connotes Nazism and is sometimes used to suggest Fascism or authoritarianism, e.g., "Herr Reichsminister" used as a title for a disliked politician.
  • Ja — yes
  • Jawohl a German term that connotes an emphatic yes — "Yes, Indeed!" in English. It is often equated to "yes sir" in Anglo-American military films, since it is also a term typically used as an acknowledgement for military commands in the German military.
  • Schnell! — "Quick!" or "Quickly!"
  • Kommandant — commander (in the sense of person in command or Commanding officer, regardless of military rank), used often in the military in general (Standortkommandant: Base commander), on battleships and U-Boats (Schiffskommandant or U-Boot-Kommandant), sometimes used on civilian ships and aircraft.
  • Schweinhund (German spelling: Schweinehund) — literally: Schwein = pig, Hund = dog, vulgarism like in der verdammte Schweinehund (the damned pig-dog). But also used to describe the lack of motivation (for example to quit a bad habit) Den inneren Schweinehund bekämpfen. = to battle the inner pig-dog.
  • Weltschmerz, world-weariness/world-pain, angst; despair with the world (often used ironically in German)
  • Wunderbar — wonderful

Terms rarely used in English

  • Ampelmännchen
  • Besserwisser – someone who always "knows better"
  • Eierlegende Wollmilchsau – literally "egg-laying wool-milk-sow", a hypothetical solution, object or person fulfilling unrealistically many different demands; also referring sometimes to a (really existing) object, concept or person like this, for example a multi-tool or exceptionally versatile person (jack of all trades)
  • Fahrvergnügen – "driving pleasure"; introduced in a Volkswagen advertising campaign
  • Gastarbeiter – "guest worker", foreign-born worker
  • Götterdämmerung – "Twilight of the Gods", a disastrous conclusion of events
  • Kobold – small mischievous fairy creature, traditionally translated as "goblin", "hobgoblin" or "imp"
  • Ordnung muss sein – "There must be order." This proverbial phrase illustrates the importance that German culture places upon order.
  • Schmutz – smut, dirt, filth
  • ... über alles – "above all", originally from "Deutschland über alles", the first line of Hoffmann von Fallersleben's poem "Das Lied der Deutschen" (The Song of the Germans); see also Über Alles.
  • Vorsprung durch Technik – "competitive edge through technology", used in an advertising campaign by Audi
  • Zweihänder – two-handed sword

German quotations used in English

Some famous English quotations are translations from German. On rare occasions an author will quote the original German as a sign of erudition.

  • Muss es sein? Es muss sein!: "Must it be? It must be!" — Beethoven
  • Der Krieg ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln: "War is politics by other means" (literally: "War is a mere continuation of politics by other means") — Clausewitz
  • Ein Gespenst geht um in Europa — das Gespenst des Kommunismus: "A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism" — The Communist Manifesto
  • Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch!: "Workers of the world, unite!" — The Communist Manifesto
  • Gott würfelt nicht: "God does not play dice" — Einstein
  • Raffiniert ist der Herrgott, aber boshaft ist er nicht: "Subtle is the Lord, but malicious He is not" — Einstein
  • Wir müssen wissen, wir werden wissen: "We must know, we will know" — David Hilbert
  • Was kann ich wissen? Was soll ich tun? Was darf ich hoffen? Was ist der Mensch?: "What can I know? What shall I do? What may I hope? What is Man?" — Kant
  • Die ganzen Zahlen hat der liebe Gott gemacht, alles andere ist Menschenwerk: "God made the integers, all the rest is the work of man" — Leopold Kronecker
  • Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders. Gott helfe mir. Amen!: "Here I stand, I cannot do differently. God help me. Amen!" — attributed to Martin Luther
  • Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen: "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent" — Wittgenstein
  • Einmal ist keinmal: "What happens once might as well never have happened." literally "once is never" — theme of The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  • Es lebe die Freiheit: "Long live freedom" — Hans Scholl

See also


  1. ^ Collins English Dictionary - Definition of “schmalz”
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Hinaus or Heraus


External links

  • Dictionary of Germanisms
  • User-generated collection of Germanisms, including images of spottings.
  • Mathematical Words: Origins and Sources (John Aldrich, University of Southampton) See Section on Contribution of German.
  • High German loanwords in English
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