25 Catchy Compound Nouns.
English is a beautiful language. It is incredibly creative and allows you to use awesome words like mushroomed or flabbergasted. It’s just…
…sometimes you’re lost in translation. Hardly ever is there an equivalent for what you really mean to say. Sometimes in your own language there is just the perfect word to describe something. Judge for yourself; thanks to the beauty of the compound noun, the German language has endless possibilities to express all kinds of emotions and issues (and there are a lot of issues and emotions Germans feel the need to express.) Here are some of my favorites:
noun (n.): relationship fat
refers to the pounds people put on in a happy relationship, related to Beziehungshintern, noun (m.): relationship bum
They’ve put on quite a bit of relationship fat since they moved to the suburbs.
noun (n.): indicator water
Driving instructor’ favorite, students are told to look for Blinkerwasser under the hood, also used to refer to people’s inability to indicate when turning
He must be out of Blinkerwasser.
noun (n.): after work beer
Feierabend, noun (m.): Celebration evening, is a beautiful word by itself, let’s make it sweeter
It’s beer o’clock, mate. I’m gonna go out for a Feierabendbier.
noun (n.): distance pain
Describes the longing to be somewhere far away or travel, opposite of Heimweh, noun (n.): homesickness
Heimweh is looking back, Fernweh is looking forward.
noun (n.): exterior embarrassment
the ability to feel ashamed for other people’s actions or misfortunes, can be used as a verb, in which case it is reflexive (ich schäme mich fremd) but let’s not go there
I felt dizzy watching Toddlers and Tiaras.
noun (f.): face five
face that would get a 5 in a 1-5 school rating, failed
He was quite a Gesichtsfünf.
noun (f.): Gretchen question
relating to Goethes Faust, it is asked to find out about someone’s faith or get right to the core of an issue, often with an unpleasant answer
Do you tell your kids there’s bunny heaven?
noun (f.): big room disco
refers to nightclubs with different areas to accompany diverse styles of music, often in the country, attended by school kids, country folk and people who like top 100 hits, over 30 parties or beer, can be used as an adjective
She looks pretty großraumdisko with that tan.
noun (n.): half knowledge
not knowing or remembering all facts
His speech was nothing but argument salad and dangerous half knowledge.
noun (n.): Gents breakfast
which consists of a beer and a Korn (Schnapps), also related Sektfrühstück, noun (n.): Champagne breakfast and Frühschoppen, noun. (m.): pre-lunch drinks. Germans may be famous for drinking but they also really cherish breakfast.
Let’s catch up for Herrenfrühstück.
noun (m.): coffee gossip
to get together for a cup of coffee and a chat
Every Wednesday, the ladies get together over coffee and cake to discuss recent happenings in their circle of friends and the expected impacts on absentees.
noun (m.): cat wailing
pretty bad hangover (Kater) or feeling blue
The morning after nothing but Katzenjammer.
noun (n.): head cinema
the movie in your head that starts rolling over the feeling something is going to go wrong, occasionally used for positive films in your head
While buying the pregnancy test, her Kopfkino was rolling.
noun (m.): grief bacon
refers to pounds people gain during difficult times, e.g. after a relationship ends
Warning: Kummerspeck may lead to frustration eating.
noun (f.): complaining culture
refers to the habit of constant meckern (complaining), which is said to take place in certain parts of Europe
I cannot possibly handle this Meckerkultur any longer, and that’s why I really need to complain about this to you.
You can take the German out of Germany, but you cannot take Germany out of the German.
noun (m.): ear worm
song that is stuck in your head
You can get rid of your Ohrwurm by passing it on to another person.
noun (f.): malicious joy
the ability to experience happiness over somebodies misfortunes.
I’ll always remember that woman walking into that glass door in Amsterdam, but Schadenfreude is so not me.
noun (f.): schnapps idea
crackpot idea, not necessarily developed after too many drinks
I’ll quit my job and join the circus.
noun (m.): pig dog
describes the inner battle we have to win before we can get ourselves to do something
I couldn’t overcome my Schweinehund; it took me two months before I could make myself clean that window. (I feel better now, tomorrow I might …)
noun (n.): sitting meat
patience to sit through slow times
His Sitzfleisch was gold during chess.
noun (f.): gate closing fear
refers to the feeling slowly creeping up when people over a certain age are still not married, had children or reached other milestones, often in combination with drastic actions
Tick tock, said the biological clock, and he went out to buy a red sport’s car.
noun (m.): person who takes warm showers
used as a serious insult against someone considered weak and unmanly (a real man takes a hot/cold shower)
also popular abasements (and there are hundreds of them!)
Birkenstockträger (person who wears Birkenstock shoes), Gebrauchsanweisungsleser (person who reads the instructions), Handy-am-Gürtel-Träger (person who wears cellphone on his belt), Pina-Colada-Trinker (man who drinks Pina Colada), Schattenparker (shadow parker), Sitzpinkler, (man who urinates sitting down), Socken-in-Sandalen-Träger (person who wears socks and sandals), Turnbeutelvergesser (person who used to forget his gym bag for school), Weichei (soft egg)
noun (m.): world pain
term to describe the pain and sadness experienced thinking about the state of the world
I had Weltschmerz watching the news.
noun (m.): week dividing day
Because the weekend starts on Wednesday.
noun (m.): time spirit/mind
coined by Hegel, refers to certain spirit of a certain time
The essence of our time is hipster.
What’s your favorite German word?
Some new German words: