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50 everyday German words and concepts without a proper English translation (Part 1)

As said, 50 everyday German words and concepts that are untranslatable to English. Literal translations are in (parenthesis), at least some of them.

Because some meanings are too long to type, I just configured to recall the front of the card, that is, the German word. I played with the idea of not typing the word and recalling both sides but the words don't stick enough when you actually have to write them later. It would be awesome to have both options -Not to write the facts, just typing them, and writing AND taping (multiple choice) the main word at the front, but oh well, the software does not have that feature.

I think I will make more. This is an interesting topic.

This is the link:


May 31, 2017



Thank you for putting these words on tiny cards.com. Lingots for you! :)


Dankeschon! :)


Backpfeifengesicht is my favourite:)


"blau machen" is more like not showing up for work even if you are perfectly healthy, just because you don't feel like it.

Some say it derives from colouring garment where the chemicals used to produce the colour blue needed much time to react, so you could not work for a day.


True... although too many words. I had to condense it somehow


No offense intended. Still an amazing list for a non-native speaker (to be honest, for natives as well) even if some of them are very similar in usage (Warmduscher, Dünnbrettborer, Weichei, Frauenversteher, Schattenparker,...)


Oh, none taken! Just explaining what I had to do...


a "Dreikäsehoch" is not "A person who has difficulty to be in vertical position (falls too often?)". It's a small kid which is, figuratively, as high as three stacked loafs of cheese.

And i've never heard "Handschuhschneeballwerfer" yet, but i'm sure it's someone who is to unmanly to make snow balls with bare hands.

"Sehnsucht": literally "longing addiction"


About three cheeses high... I found different meanings all around, one of them clumsy, like a little kid that cant stay on its feet, because its too soft and/or lack of strength etc. Never found one about the actual vertical length of somebody... but off course I can be totally wrong :)


Hi, Charly. I am a native speaker and I just associate "Dreikäsehoch" with a small kid, not with someone who falls over often.

That's a cool collection you compiled - it's fun to read - thank you!



So, quick one: is a small kid that falls often or just a small kid?

Also, any corrections/suggestions to the list?

Vielen Danke!


Hallo und entschuldige bitte meine späte Antwort :)

A Dreikäsehoch is just a small kid, not one that falls over particularly often. The definite reference when it comes to questions like this is the Duden: http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Dreikaesehoch.

some other corrections (mostly nuances, you did great work on these)

innerer Schweinehund this is not the procrastination in itself but the force that makes you want to procrastinate, the laziness/fear to succeed that keeps you glued to the couch.

Turnbeutelvergesser I'd substitute cardio-class with PE-class

Sturmfrei When your parents or other less-fun housemates are away. So you can throw a party at home where that wouldn't usually be possible.

Handschuhschneeballwerfer I've never heard that one either - but then I'm Swiss.

Allgemeinbildung is only to do with general education, not with common sense. People without a good Allgemeinbildung can still have common sense. Knowing Newton's law of universal gravitation is part of your Allgemeinbildung (I knew it once...), but if you don't know it, and you have common sense you still won't jump off a tall building.

Schnapsidee this is just a silly / crazy idea in general. You don't need to be drunk to have a Schnapsidee. It's an idea that's so crazy that you may as well have been drunk when you had it.

Sauregurkenzeit (also: Sommerloch) as a consequence of this time in summer when nothing newsworthy happens and you can read headlines like "stack of wood catches on fire" in newspapers.

blaumachen take a day off work for a made-up reason. call in sick. (when you don't show up in school it's called "schwänzen")


Dankeschon! Will correct those... :)


Ich danke Ihnen sehr für diese

  • 305

Otherwise German people ​will wonder what you are thankful for.

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*Ich danke Ihnen sehr dafür. ;)


Cool list, I gotta say, I never heard Handschuhschneeballwerfer, and googling it mostly brought up other lists like this one, but I love that word!

A Schnapsidee mostly refers to any really bad idea, something that might as well be a product of too much Schnaps.

If you're interested, some other unique German words: Angsthase, Teufelsküche, Saftladen, Vollpfosten, Katzensprung, Arschkarte, Donnerwetter, Drahtesel, Schreckschraube, Rotzlöffel, Geheimratsecken, notgeil, Muskelkater, Pustekuchen :)


Awesome! I will include those as soon I know what they mean :)


Angsthase (fear rabbit) - someone who is afraid of everything. Used for mockery

Teufelsküche (devil's kitchen) - getting into massive trouble (or alternatively, a room with Gordon Ramsay...)

Saftladen (juice shop) - a store or institution with very poor service or management

Vollpfosten (complete pole/post) - Insult, meaning someone who acts like an idiot

Katzensprung (cat's jump) - a very short distance away, objectively or subjectively

Arschkarte (ass card) - drawing the ass card means receiving the bad end of a deal, or just being in a generally unfortunate position

Donnerwetter (thunder weather) - Interjection. Used when surprised / shocked / impressed

Drahtesel (wire donkey) - mockingly refers to a bicycle

Schreckschraube (fright screw) - An obnoxious, unpleasant, unfriendly, annoying, etc... lady

Rotzlöffel (snot spoon) - A sassy or bold young child, similar to rascal

Geheimratsecken (secret council corners) - The balding spots near a man's temples because of his receding hairline

notgeil (emergency horny) - being in dire need of sexual contact, behaving like an animal in mating season

Muskelkater (muscle cat) - Kater means male cat and can also mean hangover, Muskelkater means muscle pain after excessive workout

Pustekuchen (blow cake) - What your hopes and dreams turn into when all your plans fall apart, a whole bunch of nothing: Pustekuchen!


Thank you! That will do :)


Viele Danke,I loved these words...!


Thanks, this is great!

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