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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr_Eyl

The greatest words in the German language.

Just my humble opinion, naturally, but these are some of the most entertaining words I've come across in any language, never mind this one.

Kummerspeck - literally 'grief bacon', this is the weight one gains when depressed or otherwise emotional.

Erklärungsnot - imagine you're caught doing something that you really, really shouldn't be, and need an excuse immediately. This is the 'explanation emergency'.

Glühbirne - something as simple as a lightbulb made into a thing of beauty with a change of name. In this case, it's a 'glow-pear'.

Do any of you have any particular favourites- or, if you happen to be German, are there any especially entertaining English words? My boss from Niedersachsen is particularly fond of 'vixen', for obvious reasons. :)

July 22, 2015

90 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luscinda

Snort. I think we use that one in English too. Though possibly without the -ish element.


[deactivated user]

    happy 100 :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Apahegy

    VerschlimmbesserEN- When you try to make something better, but end up making it even worse.

    VerschlimmbesserUNG- The screw-up you make when you were trying to fix something.

    I also like "kaputt."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Larkspire

    Ooh, I like those. All three of them describe my troubleshooting efforts with my laptop lately.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    verschlimbessern.

    (The -e- of the infinitive ending -en is usually cast out after -er and -el: ändern, verbessern, googeln, nörgeln.)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    "Eierlegende Wollmilchsau", an egg-laying wool-milk-pig, i.e. something, which covers all angles. N.B.: Doesn't exist in the real world.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/buck72

    My favorite is Staubsauger for vacuum cleaner. When I would knock on my German landlord's door to borrow the vacuum cleaner, I could never remember the word and always ended up imitating the sound and motion of using a vacuum cleaner, and laughing so hard in the process. What sweet memories!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LittleLia85

    My favourite word to say in German at the moment is Kartoffel, because it just sounds funny to say.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Little_Tatws

    I like potatoes... I want to learn how to say potato in as many languages as possible. That way, I'll never starve!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leonig01

    Russian: "картошка" (kartoshka), but you could say "картофель" (kartofel) as well. This is not the only borrowed German word, btw ... Hebrew: "תפוח אדמה" (tapuach adama). Literally = "earth apple"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    In France and in Austria they are also called "earth apples", i.e. "pommes de terre" and "Erdäpfel" respectively. In parts of South West Germany they are often called "Grumbeere", which comes from "Grund Birne", i.e. "ground pear". A similar word exists in Luxembourg, where they are called "Grompere".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Little_Tatws

    Thanks a lot to both of you! May your dreams be filled with many potatoes (or earth apples/pears)!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chnoxis

    I never heard "Grumbeere" before. :D I say to the potatoes in my swiss german dialect "Härdöpfel". ;-) In high german would this be called "Herdapfel". Or in englisch: Stove apple. Other friends in Switzerland say to the potatoes only "Hörpfel". ;-)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    I think the "Härd" also comes from "Erde" and not from "Herd" (stove). Here is the wikipedia article in Alemannisch, which is similar to your Swiss German dialect. The variants of Grum-/Grombeere are "Rheinfränkisch", i.e. the Palatinate (Pfalz), Saarland and Northern Baden. In Southern Baden, closer to Switzerland, they are "Herdöpfel".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chnoxis

    @Frosch0066: Thank you for the link and the explanation. Good to know. :-)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    @chnoxis: Gärn gscheh! If you are interested you can also read the potato article here in my dialect. It is closely related to the Pennsylvania Dutch spoken by the Amish in North America.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chnoxis

    @Frosch0066: I understand the most of the article in your dialect. :-) But a text to read is mostly simpler as to hear. :-)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luna293212

    Ich liebe kartoffel!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JustaHailey

    Ich auch. Kartoffeln sind großartig!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JakeOzzen

    Kartoffeln sind SEHR kartoffel. Ich mag essen Kartoffeln


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rrlear

    Vielleicht besser: "Ich esse gern Kartoffeln" oder "Ich mag Kartoffeln zu essen".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    Better the first one.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VeryCoolName

    "Bedürfnisanstalt" is an old-fashioned word for "public toilet". It translates roughly to "necessity institution". Today it sounds even funny for Germans (like me).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    Since we are on the topic, there is the German word "Durchfall", which is much more desciptive than the English name for the same condition.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jannaverse

    Das Drachenfutter: "Dragon Food". (or dragon-fodder)

    When you realize you're in deep trouble with a significant other because you said or did something wrong, this is the present you give them in hopes that they will forgive you. (Candy, flowers, etc).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/chnoxis

    I never heard this word before. And I am from the german part in Switzerland. But it's funny. :D


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jussel11

    I have never heard it too. I am from North-Rhine-Westphalia.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leonig01

    I like the long words, like Geschwindigkeitsbeschraenkung (well, actually, two words = speed limit). But it's still nice to scare the non German speakers in your vicinity with these :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    "Fussbodenschleifmaschinenverleih" is a popular one. Here. The longest allegedly is "Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leonig01

    Thanks for the link.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    There is also "Höchstgeschwindigkeitsbegrenzung"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jussel11

    That would be the limit of the maximum speed. Geschwindigkeitsbeschränkung, Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung and (erlaubte) Höchstgeschwindigkeit are common words for speed limit/allowed maximum speed.
    What makes these words long, is not the number of words, which the word contains like in "Fuß-boden-schleif-maschinen-verleih"(5) and "Donau-dampf-schiff-fahrt-s-gesellschaft-s-kapitän"(6), but the leingth of only two words "Geschwindigkeit" (speed) and "Gegrenzung" (limitation, if this word exists)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/smaranda0221

    My new goal is to use kummerspeck in a conversation.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jussel11

    What does it mean?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    Fat on your body that you got from eating a lot because you were feeling sad.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr_Eyl

    More favourites: anything ending in '-zeug'.

    'Flugzeug', 'Fahrzeug' and 'Spielzeug'- literally 'fly-thing', 'drive-thing' and 'play-thing'.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeepPracticing

    Werkzeug - tool - "work-thing".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/svartoyg

    "-zeug" does not directly translate to "-thing". Instead it is related to the English word "toy". Both are derived from a proto-Germanic root, which meant sth. like "what has been taken/drawn/tugged" (yes, "tug" is also derived from a similar word).

    In English the meaning of "toy" was sheared to a "playing-device" only.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ConverseCrew

    Well I actually laughed out loud when I learned the word Handschuh. Brought a funny image to my head.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr_Eyl

    Another good one along these lines is 'Dachboden'- in Germany, your attic is the 'roof-floor'.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/gc49k

    Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft: Association for subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical service

    Inhale big before you give it a go!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leonig01

    In Russian you can make something similar, though to a lesser extent. Атомногидроэлектростанция - Atomic Hydroelectric power plant :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    In Germany we have either nuclear power plants (Atomkraftwerk) or hydro power plants (Wasserkraftwerk) but not really a combination of the two.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leonig01

    This is more of a made-up word, doesn't have to match objects in reality. Тетрагидропиранилциклопентилтетрагидропиридопиридиновые - this is a real word, adverb for a chemical definition. Hebrew, however, is not a long words language. Longest word is around 17 letters.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/astroflammante

    Swedish has this too, and I'm rather fond of the word riksdagsmannautskottssuppleantbostadsstäderskevikariebarnbarnsbyxor: Trousers of the grandchild(ren) of the substitute cleaner of the house of a Member of Parliament who is a deputy in a parliament committee. (invented by the comedian author Falstaff, fakir.)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leonig01

    Ar du svensk?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/astroflammante

    Ja, det är jag. (Jag håller på att ta mig igenom svenskakursen mest för skojs skull.)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sueefo

    I just heard "Zebrastreifen" ("crosswalk") courtesy of Vlog Dave. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnZ0C4deOyB_TUFSJK3L4lg Is it due to the stripes painted on the road?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr_Eyl

    I would have thought so. We call it a zebra crossing here in the UK, too.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    The UK has a number of other funny animal crossings as well, such as a toucan crossing (where "two can cross"), a pelican crossing (PEdestrian LIght-CONtrolled crossing, I think), and a puffin crossing.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daviddempsay

    Despite that most of my ancestors were German, I sometimes have a little trouble taking the German language seriously. I find it very amusing that if you're in Berlin and you're feeling very sick (krank) then you might have a serious medical crisis and you may end up riding to the Krankenhaus in a Krankenwagen, but hopefully you will have good Krankenversicherung to help cover the medical bills. Perhaps there's a kind of genius behind all this. After all, words beginning with a "k" are deemed to be funny, and laughter is said to be the best medicine.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rrlear

    Another "sick" word that I kind of like is "Arbeitsunfähigkeitbescheinigung". (at least I think that's how it's spelled!) Literally it means something like "work disability certificate". (Arbeits = work, (un)fähigkeit = (dis)ability, bescheinigung = certificate) Not sure if it is used frequently, but I still like it!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VeryCoolName

    The word inspired someone to create the new word "Arbeitsunlustbescheinigung", which became a running gag when stating "officially" that you're not in the mood for work today. For an example see http://www.chip.de/ii/3/0/1/7/7/4/8/963f3531b34a1cdb.jpg


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    Arbeitsunfähigkeitsbescheinigung, I think, with another buffer -s- in there (Arbeit + Unfähigkeit + Bescheinigung -- the "s" does not belong to "Arbeit" but is a sound added during the process of combining the words).

    Used frequently enough when talking about the object it refers to, though it's also often simply called "der gelbe Schein" (the yellow slip) after its colour.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rrlear

    Thanks for the correction. That 's' is easy to lose in the stream of letters. I'm somewhat impressed you spotted it!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/svartoyg

    I have troubles to understand what you mean. Can you please explain? Do you refer to the situation in English, were one has totally different words for these things (e.g. "hospital", "ambulance", "insurance")?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/smilljas

    I don't get it either and a Krakenwagen would really scare me... :)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daviddempsay

    Oh c'mon, don't let yourself be put off by the prospect of riding in a "sickmobile." After all, we only live once! : o


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    A Krakenwagen is an "octopusmobile"! (Note typo in the original comment turning the ambulance into something rather more ominous.)


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/daviddempsay

    mizinamo,

    Oops, good catch on the misspelling (missing "n"). Thanks for the heads up; I'll fix it. Further, you're also correct in noting that a sea-monster-mobile would be much worse! : O


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Chocolatey55

    Der Teigmantel, or "Dough coat", aka crust, like bread or pizza crust.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    "Teigmantel" is not exactly a bread or pizza crust, but more like a batter. It refers to something, usually meat or fish, being cooked coated in dough. A pizza or bread crust would simply be "Kruste".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luna293212

    kuschelig! (comfy, cozy etc) hehe I was taught this at a festival when cuddled in a van during a storm... nothing like being super kuschelig!!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zaqsert

    Umgebung. Especially the way the Duo voice says it. Oomgeeboong.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    Also fun is the plural "Umgebungen", because it looks like a past participle "umgebungen", presumably from a verb "umbingen". "Ich binge es um, ich bang es um, ich habe es umgebungen."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jussel11

    But to say it more clearly: This verb does not exist. What exists is the verb "umbringen" "ich bringe um, ich brachte um, ich habe umgebracht (sometimes as a joke "umgebrungen")" which means "to kill".


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SuperSquashMann

    My favorite is "Streichholzschächtelchen" (Small box of matches). Used in a sentence: Sie Stellt Tschechisches Streichholzschächtelchen am Tisch.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Mr_Eyl

    Excellent. My tongue is tied in knots.

    Is that Ainsley Harriot in your pic?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zak332671

    Treppenwitz - To have thought of a joke or rebuttal after the situation has passed... Literally "Stair-Joke"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

    aka esprit d'escalier in "English" (borrowed from French).


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Danmoller

    Selbstverständlich ist Ausgezeichtnet das tollste Wort!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/nek0_22

    My favorite word is "der Stubentiger." It literally means room tiger and is used to refer to a house cat. A must-know for any cat-lover!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ypsilon2007

    In German I love these two words because they are so much a part of human nature - Weltschmerz - literally an ache of the world and Schadenfreude- again a dark word meaning ( in my opinion) rejoicing in someone else's bad luck!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Geraldine1610

    Yes, Weltschmerz is such a beautiful word!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Micha-B.

    1.) Zeitgeist (wurde zum geflügelten Wort und stammt vom Dichter Johann Gottfried Herder) 2.) Weltschmerz ( stammt vom deutschen Dichter Jean Paul) 3.) Fremdschämen ( siehe Wikipedia Donald Trump) 4.) Backpfeifengesicht (siehe Wikipedia Donald Trump) und Schnapsidee dürfte hier wohl auch passen. 5.) Treppenwitz (Friedrich Nitzsche, Denis Diderot und William Lewis Hertslet) Das Buch "Treppenwitz der Weltgeschichte" wird seit 1822 Jahr für Jahr bis heute in einer aktualisierten Fassung aufgelegt. (siehe Wikipedia Donald Trump) 6.) Torschlusspanik ( in deutschen Städten wurden im Mittelalter abends die Tore verschlossen. In Hamburg sogar bis zum Jahre 1860 ) 7.) Oberlichte (Weil Deutsche diese Fensterform Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts in Frankreich entdeckten und diese dort "Le Vasistas" - in Anlehnung an den deutschen Satz "Was ist das?" heißen. Mutterseelenallein ist auch so ein Wort, das sich die Berliner den Hugenotten (französischen Flüchtlingen) abgeschaut haben. unn natürlich Fingerspitzengefühl, Luftschloss, Kopfkino, Dunkelziffer, Dornröschenschlaf, Putzfimmel, Frühjahrsmüdigkeit und Dünnhäutigkeit.

    Das schönste deutsche Wort: begreifen! Es bringt auf wunderbare Art das abstrakte Denken und das sinnliche Erfassen in einem Wort zusammen.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sueefo

    I hate snow but I like the sound of the word "Schnee."


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leonig01

    You hate snow? Let me guess, you live in a country with a harsh winter? :) I would gladly take all your snow :))


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sueefo

    And I would gladly give it to you! :-) Seriously, the winter in New England was horrible last year and by February I was wondering if I would ever see green grass and green leaves again.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/leonig01

    Here in Israel snow is a rare thing. I live in Jerusalem, which is relatively high in the mountains, and once in a few years we get a 10-15 cm snow for a few days, but it's not enough (


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/l.graveyard_yea6

    Ziemlich gut ( pretty good I hope that spells right )


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KeepPracticing

    Schadenfreude. "Harm-joy". That awful emotion some feel when another person has difficulties.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VeryCoolName

    There is another emotion which has no direct English translation: "sich fremdschämen" - feeling embarrassed on behalf of someone else.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Frosch0066

    Yes, it's a relatively new one but so apt. In English perhaps "cringe de la cringe"


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/rrlear

    Interesting that english doesn't have that word. Certainly I'm frequently so afflicted when watching very much TV.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Raisinnoir

    A Berlin friend used to say: Mensch, es war grausam!


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bobvartez

    'soupcon' (Fr)- trace, hint, small amount, little suspicion what are the other Glühbirne?


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PlatonicBliss

    Great thread. Here's a lingot.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/TroutQuintet

    Some favorites that I recently came across are die Gehirnerschütterung (concussion, aka "brain-shaking") and der Gehirnschlag (apoplexy, aka "brain-hit").

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