10 super literal German words
by Erin McGann
December 15, 2020
friends laughing about literal German words

When you start learning German, be prepared for people to tag you into ‘there must be a super-long German word for that!’ conversations on social media. It is very satisfying to be able to say, ‘well actually…’ so let Erin prepare you with a few perfect, very logical yet satisying German words. 

The 10 best literal German words

Kummerspeck

This literally translates to ‘grief bacon’ and refers to the weight you might gain due to emotional eating, in whatever circumstances. I think you should wrap your arms around that Kummerspeck and give it a snuggle, it’s worth it’s weight in gold because it’s…

Hüftgold

In English, we call them ‘love handles’ but I think I prefer the German version, which is literally ‘hip gold’. I mean, it only seems like the safe thing to do, to store all your valuables on your person? 

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Innerer Schweinhund

You’re teetering on the edge of a decision – do you hit snooze once more on your phone, and risk missing your tram to work? I mean, that’s what dry shampoo is for, am I right? Your ‘inner pig-dog’ is that little voice nudging you to do it, whether it’s have that one more glass of wine or sleep in a bit late. 

Weltschmerz

Feeling upset with the state of the world is something I think we all understand intimately, in this post-2020 life, so Weltschmerz doesn’t need much explanation. But it is excellent having a single word for when everything is just weighing too heavily, you can shrug, look dejected, and say: ‘Weltschmerz’. Everyone will understand. Well, you can explain it and then they will understand. 

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Feuchtfröhlich

A single adjective for a happy, boozy time – how efficient. Feuchtfröhlich literally means ‘wet happy’ and you could use it to describe any occasion where the alcohol is flowing and everyone is enjoying themselves. 

Hexenschuss

Lower back pain does really feel like someone has stabbed you with a spear, and honestly ‘witch’s shot’ sounds much more satisfyingly dramatic than ‘lumbago’. It doesn’t actually make it hurt any less unfortunately. 

Zahnfleisch

It sounds a bit clinical, and the literal translation of ‘tooth meat’ makes most English speakers squirm. It’s true, this is the completely normal German word for ‘gums’, like in your mouth. Where your teeth are. It’s hard once you have translated it not to have the phrase ‘tooth meat’ going around in your head for awhile. Sorry. 

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Durchfall

This is another one for you: ‘through fall’. Sounds very innocuous, no? Well, it means diarrhoea. Full points for not being hard to spell, unlike the English version which has several different ones depending on where you live: diarrhoea in the UK and Australia, diarrhea if you are in the US, and Canada it can be either one, just to be difficult. But ‘through fall’ produces an incredibly visceral image as soon as you say it. 

Geborgenheitsgefühl

This is a tough one to translate, as there is no real word for it in English. Literally it means a ‘feeling of security’, but in German, this word conjures up a much more detailed picture. Knowing you are at home, and happy, and everyone you love is safe and happy, and you’re comfortably wrapped up in a fuzzy blanket with good socks on. 

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Antibabypille

This one is not very hard to figure out, as it is pretty close to the literal English translation, though the words we use for ‘birth control’ are a bit more euphemistic. The Antibabypille does what it says on the tin, and prevents one from getting pregnant. No beatin around the bush here! 

Now you will be that person who drops in to any given conversation with: ‘There’s a great German word for that concept…’ 

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