They Really Have a Word for Everything – the Best German Words|
We’ve all heard the phrase, “The Germans have a word for everything!” But is it true?
The Structure of the German Language
(I only understand train station)
This is a fancy way of saying that you don’t get it, similarly to the English saying, “It’s all Greek to me”.
(I didn’t come swimming along on the noodle soup)
This expression is based on the assumption that people from poor backgrounds, where only simple food like soup is available, are uneducated and simple-minded. This is similar to the English saying, “I wasn’t born yesterday”.
(If you don’t have it in your brain, you have to have it in your legs)
A less common phrase, it means that you should try to be less forgetful. For example, if you forget and leave your car keys upstairs, you must use your legs to retrace your steps back up and fetch them.
(Be the fifth wheel in the cart)
It is used in the same context as the English phrase “being the third wheel on a date”. However, with German engineering, they tend to have more wheels on their carts – and it sounds like Germans also go on quite a lot of double-dates.
(He doesn’t have all the cups in his closet)
This is an idiomatic phrase similar to “you’ve lost your marbles!”—someone who has completely lost their mind and that nothing is rumbling around their head.
(The Pope is boxing in chain mail)
An absurd phrase means that a place (for example, a festival or a swimming pool in summer) is packed and full of people as if there was something extraordinary to see, like the Pope boxing in chain mail.
(Here, the fox and hare say to themselves good night)
This phrase means that a place is in the sticks or the middle of nowhere, and nothing exciting ever happens.
(Play the offended liverwurst)
When Germans get offended, they don’t act like drama queens; they act like an offended sausage. (They do love their Bratwurst!)
(Go where the pepper grows!)
A relatively friendly way to tell someone to get lost or to go to hell. The origin of the phrase comes from when peppers were imported into Germany from Asia a few hundred years ago, and at the time, Asia seemed like a highly distant place to get to.
(Put Butter on the fish now)
A phrase you say when your friend is telling you about some juicy gossip, but almost 40 minutes have passed, and you loudly exclaim that they should “just get to the point!”
(You’re stepping on my cookie)
An excellent way to say to someone that they are annoying you. First, they spill the milk, and now they step on the cookie – it sounds like a tough day.
(To jump over one’s shadow)
The act of overcoming something that terrifies you to your core. When you launch yourself off the tallest cliff with a bungee cord when you’re terrified of heights.
(There, we have the Salad)
This is exclaimed when you expect something bad to happen, and, as it just so happens, it does. So now – we have the salad.
(Live like God in France)
A phrase that means “To live in luxury”. This is a common phrase used in Germany. There are a few ideas about the origin of the phrase. One of the most famous references is how clergy members lived in France during the Middle Ages.
(Close the lid, the monkey is dead)
The origin of this one is not really known, but it is a fun one to say. It’s meant to be expressed more casually, like the English phrase “that’s all, folks!” or “that’s the end of the story”.
Literal German words
|German||Literal Meaning||Actual Meaning|
|Augenblicklich||Like the blink of an eye||Instant|
It is a term coined by the German author Jean Paul, meaning world-weariness. The psychological pain caused by sadness can occur when realizing that someone’s weaknesses are caused by the inappropriateness and cruelty of the world and their circumstances.
A phrase similar to the French expression “L’esprit de l’escalier” translates to English as “staircase joke”. It means “a witty comment that only occurs to you once the moment has passed”. No matter the language, we all seem to experience the same phenomenon.
The act of taking pleasure in someone else’s misfortune. Is there someone in the world that you truly despise? Do you revel in happiness anytime they encounter lousy luck in their life? The English translation is “Harm Joy”, but it doesn’t quite capture the wonderful word the Germans coined.
Kummerspeck has an excellent literal translation – it means “grief bacon”. The meaning behind it is less amusing. It means the excess weight gained from emotional eating and eventual extra flab that appears on your body as a side effect of this situation.
Is there someone you know whom you find to be insufferably smug? Maybe whenever they open their mouth, you feel an uncontrollable desire to inflict a mild amount of physical pain on them. This great word describes a face that desperately needs to be slapped.
This word translates literally to “the feeling of being alone in the woods”. It’s the emotion you get when feeling most peaceful, undisturbed or in the thick of nature, where the sunlight barely creeps through the thick leaves and overgrowth.
This word refers to a natural talent or feeling for a language. We believe anyone can learn a language and develop a “natural” talent for language, and this is the perfect word to describe us for a blog about languages.
This one translates to “head cinema,”. It is used to describe the experience of playing out scenarios in your mind, whether it’s a series of images from the past or hypothetical scenes about the future. The term comes from the idea of playing a film in your mind, and this elaborate daydream can be pleasant or unpleasant, depending on the situation.
This is the feeling of having a dwindling amount of time to meet a goal. In English, it translates to “door-closing panic”. It generally refers to having a very narrow window of time to complete a project or deadline. It can be used in various contexts, so it is a very versatile “little” German word.
This term means “distance sickness” or “faraway pain,” which is nearly the opposite of homesickness. It means you have a strong desire to travel to distant lands, only satisfied when you’re living a nomadic lifestyle and happiest when seeing new places and meeting new people.