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 night clubs 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 the glass door in Amsterdam.
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 tack, 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:
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49 thoughts on “The Germans have a word for it”
toller Beitrag!!! 🙂
aber gerade zur “Gesichtsfünf” gibts doch noch unendlich viele Synonyme “Gesichtsopfer”… oder auch das gegenteilige
Sie ist eine “Zehn” oder eine “Zehnerfrau”, wahlweise mit “21” (als Blackjackvariante)…
nächste mal dann in Englisch 😉
21 als Black Jack Variante? Dich stellen wir gleich mal in der Redaktion an
Isn’t great to be able to speak multi-languages? You’re so correct about certain languages that are so rich in symbolism. I’ve put on a bit of Beziehungsfett just reading your post 😉
By the way, do you think it’s good idea having people rate your posts? I always want a conversation, and I’m concerned that rather than comments, people might just rate you, which is fine if that’s what you want. I’m just curious.
Actually, I’ve been really wondering about that, too
Hello Shah. Thanks for your advice. No more ratings.
Great German expressions. One of my favorite ones is “Das its doch Quark”. I will definitely spend some time exploring your blog. Lots of food for thought.
Thank you for exploring. I am just getting started here and am really keen for feedback. Are you familiar with Quatsch mit Soße? Maybe I’ll get some phrases together…
I’m not familiar with that one, although We used Quatsch in other ways. I look forward to reading more about this subject . This and another post inspired the post I’m working on for today.
I just loved this thank you so much for bringing it to my attention. I love the word Weltschmerz have covered that in my blog too 😍 I love the one about relationship fat, I can relate to this. There are so many terrific words here and the oddness of them will help me with learning German, it is a beautiful language in a strange way. Thank you will share to my Twitter 🙂
This is a great post! I love all the insults. Some people are good at that sort of insult in whichever language they happen to speak, but it’s always handy to have some stock phrases up your sleeve. Kummerspeck seems to be a chicken and (bacon and) egg situation: does frustration eating lead to Kummerspeck, or is it the other way round?
Thank you. I’m happy you liked it! It’s really a bit of a vicious circle…
Them words ain’t too pretty, but they sure are expressive!
Once I had a tutoring kid that would write all words in capitals just to make it look like his words were shouting. One can give German a chance. It is prettier than people give it credit for 😉
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(Siri and I are going to fight over this comment). I have lots of favourites on there but I choose Kaffeeklatsch and Katsenjammer. I had the latter one all day today because of a migraine. I had an ice pack over the left side of my face because it felt like the Katz were jammering down very hard on it.
The Japanese equivalent of Kaffeeklatsch is “tachibanashi” – a quick chat; something heard but not in an official statement.
💚🧡❤️ Loved this post. Enjoy your weekend.
Thank you so much! I hope you’re feeling better. Japanese sayings and words can be pretty descripive, too. It’s really interesting how your language influences your thinking. There are languages that don’t have a word for stress or airing your place properly 😉
Interesting (even if I don’t know German)
Thank you Luisa, one can always have fun with words; no matter the lannguage 🙂
Right… and I adore having fun with words 🙏🙏🙏
My father was German but I only knew Kaffeeklatsch in your list … I don’t think he used it, but it was a common expression used back in the day when most women were stay-at-home moms. I kind of like how this word rolls off the tongue. When I was a kid, my father called me “Schnickelfritz” … I knew it was an endearing term and I had to Google it phonetically … the way I would have spelled it would have sounded like a type of wonderful rustic German bread! Speaking of German bread, when I spent time in Germany in 1969 and 1979, I liked the name of the different types of wursts. Every night my mom and I would split a wurstplatte. Yum!
That is really cool. I knew that you could do that with German easier than with English. When I would fall down or something like that, my dad or my German aunts used to say, (Forgive the spelling, I hope it makes sense) “Dreck mon speck. Dirt makes you fat.”