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18 Strange German Words You Won't Believe Actually Exist


Many German words have no obvious translation in English.

One of the best things about learning languages is discovering words that exist in one language but have no equivalent in your own - or in another language, for that matter.








Here we look at 18 wonderfully strange German words you've probably never heard of!


1. Der Ohrwurm - "Earworm"

Have you ever heard a song on the radio on your way to work that you still hum to yourself during your lunch break? Congratulations, you had an Ohrwurm. The beautiful German word Ohrwurm describes the fact that a song gets stuck in your head, as if it had wormed its way through your ear and into your brain.


2. Das Fernweh - "Wanderlust"

This gem describes the feeling of wanting to be somewhere else. It is a kind of reverse homesickness, a longing for a place that is not where you are. Fernweh is also a common reason for people in Germany to go on vacation.


3. Kummerspeck - "grief bacon"

After the end of a relationship or in other times of sadness, anger or worry, it is common to gain a few pounds of Kummerspeck. This refers to the excess weight that comes from emotional overeating. So when you're sitting on the couch watching "Bridget Jones' Diary" with a cup of ice cream, you're actually feeding your Kummerspeck.


4. Innerer Schweinehund - "Inner Pig dog"

Can't get up in the morning to get to work on time? Too lazy to go to the gym? Homework left undone until the last minute? Don't worry, it's not your fault. Blame it on your Innerer Schweinehund. That's the little voice in the back of your head that's trying to convince you to live a life of inertia, and that you need to overcome in order to get rid of Kummerspeck.


5. Fremdschämen - "Extraneous shame"

For those of you who wince with phantom pain when others make fools of themselves, Fremdschämen is your word. It describes the feeling of shame when you see someone else in an uncomfortable or embarrassing situation. For the more empathetic people, it's a real thing and has stopped more than one person from watching "The Office."


6. Torschlusspanik - "Closing-Gate-Panic"

As people age, some worry about paths they haven't taken or milestones they wanted to reach by a certain age but haven't. Torschlusspanik is the sense of urgency to reach these goals before an imaginary gate closes and "it's all too late." It is most commonly used for those who feel that their biological clock is running out and who feel the need to settle down with a partner or have children immediately.


7. Treppenwitz "staircase joke"

Have you ever noticed that when you have a chance encounter with an attractive person of the opposite gender or have an argument with someone, you always come up with the best jokes, sayings and counters? This is what is known as the Treppenwitz. This is the joke that comes to your mind on your way down the stairs after talking to your neighbour in the hallway two floors up.


8. Lebensmüde - "Life tired"

This word literally means "tired of life" and was used to describe the dramatic and mental anguish of the young Romantic poets. Nowadays, people call their friends lebensmüde when they attempt something particularly stupid and possibly life-threatening. Most people in fail videos on YouTube suffer from being lebensmüde.