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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Oh, the beautiful German language...

The German language has a number of wonderfully weird words that accurately describe a certain situation or feeling.

Every language has its own reputation. The German language is probably best known for having enormously long words - 20 letters, 30 letters, or even more? This is definitely worth mentioning when describing the German language. Many of our students love these crazy long words AND it's a great sense of achievement when they know where one word ends and a new one begins.

Many of these wonderfully long words are already an integral part of the English language: Rucksack, Bratwurst, Kindergarten - just to name a few that come to mind off the top of my head.

But other favourites are wanderlust and schadenfreude (a classic).

These examples show that the German language is much more than nightmarishly long sentences and difficult grammar. German is the language of poets and thinkers, with countless wonderfully strange words that often describe feelings for which we have to use whole sentences in other languages. Here are our 6 favourite examples:

1. Fremdschämen

Have you ever had the "luck" to observe a scene in a restaurant that was incredibly unpleasant for you, even though you were not involved? Just looking at it was enough to give you a special feeling: Stranger Shame! Then you have Fremdschämen is a feeling of embarrassment because of someone else's foolish behaviour.

Learn German with the beautiful German word: fremdschämen

2. Sturmfrei

As a young adult, you can barely wait for your parents to go on holiday without you.Finally you have the home to yourself and sturmfrei, the freedom to invite friends over without being monitored or disturbed by adults. Sturmfrei was originally used in military language to describe an impregnable fortress or castle. When the term was used colloquially, it became a metaphor for a house that is safe from parental intrusion.

Learn German with the beautiful German word: sturmfrei

3. Pantoffelheld

The Pantoffelheld slipper hero, is husband who pretends to be in control, although everything points to the opposite. An equivalent in English would be the "henpecked husband". The fact that henpecked translates into German as unter dem Pantoffel stehen suggests that these unfortunate individuals are "trapped under the henpeck", the henpeck of course serving as a blunt symbol of domesticity.

Learn German with the beautiful German word: Pantoffelheld

4. Verschlimmbessern

Yes, the Germans have a saying for when you try to improve something but actually make it even worse. The German comedian Loriot was famous for his sketches in which his character actively makes the situation worse. In Das Bild hängt schief, he is waiting for an appointment in a posh, nicely decorated room. He notices that one of the paintings on the wall is hanging crooked and tries to put it right (with catastrophic consequences - he ends up completely destroying the room).

Learn German with the beautiful German word: verschlimmbessern

5. Feierabend

The end of the working day is undoubtedly a reason to celebrate. When your German colleagues tell you that it's the end of the day, it's not necessarily a party, but most likely just the end of a working day: Feierabend!

Learn German with the beautiful German word: Feierabend

Read more blogs!

Learn how to use "weil" and "denn" in German

The German cases - what are they and how do they work?

Learn Temporal Prepositions in German: In, Vor, Nach, Für


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