German terms commonly used in English

delfino's version from 2015-05-22 06:10

Food and drink

Berliner WeißeBerliner Weisse, sour beer infused with fruit syrup
der Biergartenan open-air drinking establishment
Braunschweigera smoked ground beef sausage; though in English a liverwurst cold-cut
die Bratwurst(sometimes abbrev. brat), type of frying sausage
das Budweiserbeer, after Budweis, the German name of Budějovice, a city in Southern Bohemia
der BundkuchenBundt cake, a ring cake (if you want to get one in Germany, better order a Gug(e)lhupf)
die Delikatessenfine foods, Delicatessen - speciality food retailer,
die Frankfurtertype of sausage, usually called a "Frank" or "Frankfurt" in English use.
der Gummibärthe gummi bear or gummy bear (Anglicized spelling)
der Hamburgersandwich with a meat patty and garnishments
Hasenpfeffertype of rabbit (or hare) stew
der Hefeweizenunfiltered wheat beer (containing yeast)
das Kipferl / HörnchenKipfel, a horn-shaped type of pastry
das Kirschwasserspirit drink made from cherries (hard liquor / booze)
die Knackwurstcooked sausage
der Kohlrabitype of cabbage (aka cabbage turnip)
das Lagerbeer made with bottom-fermenting yeast and stored for some time before serving (in Germany, you'd rather order an Export).
die Leberwurstpork-liver sausage
das Maßa unit of volume used for measuring beer; typically 1 litre (0.22 imp gal; 0.26 US gal), but probably evolved from the old Bavarian unit of measure (Maßeinheit) called Quartl (quart).
das MüsliMuesli, breakfast cereal (Swiss German spelling: Müesli)
die Pfeffernüssepeppernuts
das Pilsener (or Pils, Pilsner)pale lager beer named after Pilsen, the German name of Plzeň, a city in Western Bohemia; contains higher amounts of hops than usual Lager (or Export) beer, and therefore is a tad more bitter.
die Brezel(Pretzel), flour and yeast based pastry
Pumpernickeltype of sourdough rye bread, strongly flavoured, dense, and dark in colour
der Quarka type of fresh cheese (curd)
das Radlera mixture of beer and lemonade
der Rollmopsrolled, pickled herring fillet
das Sauerkraut(sometimes shortened to Kraut, which in German would mean cabbage in general), fermented cabbage
das Schmalzlard (rendered fat of animal origin), from Old High German smalz [1]
der Schnaps(Schnapps), distilled alcoholic drink (hard liquor, booze)
die (Wein-)SchorleSpritzer, chilled drink from white wine and soda water (from spritzen = to spray; the term Spritzer is most commonly used in Vienna and its surroundings; elsewhere in Austria: "Mischung")
der Steinkrug(literally earthenware jug) large drinking mug, usually for beer (from 'Steingut = earthenware, referring to the material)
der Streuselcrumb topping on a cake
der Strudel(e. g. Apfelstrudel, milk-cream strudel) a filled pastry
die Wienerhot dog (from Wiener Würstchen = Viennese sausage)
das Wiener Schnitzelcrumbed veal cutlet
die Wurstsausage, cold cuts
der Zwiebacka "twice baked" bread; rusk, variants: German hard biscuits; Mennonite double yeast roll

Sports and recreation

sich abseilena reflexive verb, to rope (seil) oneself (sich) down (ab); the term abseiling is used in the UK and Commonwealth countries, "roping (down)" in various English settings, and "rappelling" in the US.
der Blitzlightning, taken from Blitzkrieg (lightning war). It is a team defensive play in American or Canadian football in which the defense sends more players than the offense can block.
der Blitzkrieg(lightning war) was originally used in Nazi Germany during World War 2, describing a dedicated kind of fast and ferocious attack.
der Fußballsoccer in general; the soccer ball
Tischfußball / Kickertable football, foosball
der Karabinersnaplink, a metal loop with a sprung or screwed gate, used in climbing and mountaineering; modern short form/derivation of the older word 'Karabinerhaken'; translates to 'riflehook'. The German word can also mean a Carbine firearm.
der Karabinerhaken(literally riflehook), Karabiner is a modern short form/derivation of this older word
die Kutte(literally frock or cowl), a type of vest made out of denim or leather and traditionally worn by bikers, metalheads and punks; in German the word also refers to the clothes of monks.[3]
der Kletterschuhclimbing shoe (mountaineering)
die Mannschaftsports team
der Rucksack(more commonly called a backpack in U.S. English)
der Schussliterally: shot (ski) down a slope at high speed; German term: Schussfahrt, as Schuss alone typically means Shoot/Shot
der Turnera gymnast
der Turnvereina gymnastics club or society
die Volkswanderung / der Volksmarschnon-competitive fitness walking
der Volkssportpopular sport

Other aspects of everyday life

–bahnas a suffix, e.g. Infobahn, after Autobahn
Blüchera half-boot named after Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher (1742–1819); also a hand in the British card game Napoleon.
Dachshundliterally badger dog; a dog breed (usually referred to as Dackel in German usage)
Doberman Pinschera dog breed (usually referred to as Dobermann in German)
der Doppelgängerliterally double-goer, also spelled in English as doppelgaenger; a double or look-alike. However, in English the connotation is that of a ghostly apparition of a duplicate living person.
der Dreckliterally dirt or smut, but now meaning trashy, awful (through Yiddish, OED s.v.)
der Dummkopfliterally stupid head; a stupid, ignorant person, similar to numbskull in English
erlaubtallowed, granted - opposite of verboten.
der Ersatzreplacement; usually implying an artificial and inferior substitute or imitation. The German word has a neutral connotation, e.g. Ersatzrad simply means "spare wheel" (not an inferior one).
das Festfestival
die FlakFlugabwehrkanone, literally: air-defence cannon, for anti-aircraft artillery or their shells, also used in flak jacket; or in the figurative sense: "drawing flak" = being heavily criticized
die Gemütlichkeitcoziness
die Gesundheitliterally health; an exclamation used in place of "bless you!" after someone has sneezed
die Hausfrauhousewife with neutral connotation, while in English pejorative: frumpy, petty-bourgeois, traditional, pre-emancipation type whose interests centre on the home, or who is even exclusively interested in domestic matters (colloquial, AE only), sometimes humorously used to replace "wife", but with the same mildly derisive connotation.
der Kaffeeklatschliterally coffee gossip; afternoon meeting where people (usually referring to women, particularly Hausfrauen) chitchat while drinking coffee or tea and having cake.
kaputtkaput, out-of-order, broken, dead
der Kindergartenliterally children's garden; day-care centre, playschool, preschool
der Kitschcheap, sentimental, gaudy items of popular culture
die Kraftas in kraft paper the strong paper used to make sacks; Kraft in German just means strength or power.
Kraut(literally cabbage); in English a derogatory term for a German
der Lebensraumliterally living space; conquered territory, now exclusively associated with the Nazi Party in that historical context.
die Lederhosen(short leather pants for men and boys, often worn with suspenders)
der Meistermaster, also as a suffix: –meister; in German, Meister typically refers to the highest educational rank of a craftsperson
der Nazishort for Nationalsozialist (National Socialist)
der NeandertalerNeanderthal, meaning "of, from, or pertaining to the Neandertal ("Neander Valley")", the site near Düsseldorf where early Homo Neanderthalensis fossils were found
nixnix, dialectal variant of nichts (nothing)
die NudelNoodle, a type of food; a string of pasta.
das OktoberfestBavarian folk festival held annually in Munich during late September and early October
der Poltergeist(literally noisy ghost); an alleged paranormal phenomenon where objects appear to move of their own accord
der PudelPoodle, breed of dog
der Rottweilerbreed of dog
die Schadenfreudejoy from pain (literally harm joy); delight at the misfortune of others
die Scheißean expression and euphemism meaning "shit", usually as an interjection when something goes amiss
der Schnauzershort for Schnauzbart, meaning moustache; breed of dog
Siskinseveral species of birds (from Sisschen, dialect for Zeisig)
der Spitza breed of dog
süffigif a beverage is especially light and sweet or palatable; only the latter meaning is connoted with German süffig.
überuber, over; used to indicate that something or someone is of better or superior magnitude, e.g. Übermensch
Ur– (prefix)original or prototypical; e.g. Ursprache, Urtext
verbotenprohibited, forbidden, banned. In both English and German, this word has authoritarian connotations.
der Volkswagenliterally people's car; brand of automobile
die Wanderlustthe yearning to travel
das Würstchen(the diminutive form of Wurst), Wurst or rarely Wiener Würstchen (Vienna sausage) is used pejoratively, signifying a spineless, weak person (Wiener)
das Wunderkindliterally wonder child; a child prodigy
der Zeitgeistspirit of the time
der Zeppelintype of rigid airship named after its inventor


der Ansatzbasic approach
der Doktorvaterdoctoral advisor
die Festschriftbook prepared by colleagues to honor a scholar, often on an important birthday such as the sixtieth.
die Gedenkschriftmemorial publication
der Leitfadenguideline
der Methodenstreitdisagreement on methodology
der Privatdozentin German it describes a lecturer without professorship (typically requires German Habilitation degree).
das Professoriatthe entity of all professors of a university


der Bauhausstila German style of architecture begun by Walter Gropius in 1918
der Biedermeierstilof or relating to a style of furniture developed in Germany in the 19th century; in German, it might also derogatively describe a certain old-fashioned, ultra-conservative interior styling
das Hügelgrabin archaeology, burial mound
der Jugendstilart nouveau
die Pfostenschlitzmauerin archaeology, a method of construction typical of prehistoric Celtic hillforts of the Iron Age
der Plattenbaubuilding made from prefabricated slabs; a typical building style of the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s
die Viereckschanzein archaeology, a Celtic fortification of the Iron Age


das Gesamtkunstwerk"the whole of a work of art", also "total work of art" or "complete artwork"
die Gestalt(lit. "shape, figure"), a collection of entities that creates a unified concept (where "the whole is more than the sum of its parts")


die Almglockentuned cowbells
das Alphorna wind instrument
die Augenmusikeye music
das Blockwerkmedieval type of church organ featuring only labial pipes
das Crumhornfrom German Krummhorn, a type of brass instrument
das Fachmethod of classifying singers, primarily opera singers, by the range, weight, and color of their voices
die Fifefrom Pfeife, a small transverse flute often used in military and marching bands
die Flatterzunge(literally "flutter tongue"), playing technique for wind instruments
das Flügelhorn(Flugelhorn), a type of brass musical instrument
das Glockenspiela percussion instrument
der Heldentenor"heroic tenor"
das Hammerklavier"hammer-keyboard", an archaic term for piano or the name of a specific kind of piano, the fortepiano; most commonly used in English to refer to Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata
die Hosenrollea term for male character
der Kapellmeister"music director"
der Katzenjammerhubbub or uproar; in German, the term Katzenjammer could also mean hangover.
das Kinderklavierpiano for children
die Klangfarbenmelodiea term coined by Arnold Schönberg regarding harmonic theory
der Konzertmeisterconcert master
die Kuhreihensong originally used for gathering cows for milking
das Leitmotiv(Leitmotif) a musical phrase that associates with a specific person, thing, or idea
das Lied (pronounced "leet")"song"; specifically in English, "art song"
die Lieder ohne Worte"songs without words"
die Liederhandschrifta manuscript containing medieval songs
der Liederkranz(originally male) singing club
der LiedermacherSinger-songwriter
die Marktsackpfeifea type of bagpipes
der MeistersingerMaster-singer
der Mensurstrichbarline that is drawn between staves
der Minnesangmedieval love poetry
das Musikalisches Würfelspiela composing technique featuring the use of random number generators, i.e. dice (Würfel).
der Ohrwurmcatchy tune
die Orgelbewegunga movement of organ building featuring a more baroque sound and organ architecture
die Rauschpfeifea type of woodwind instrument.
das Rückpositiv(also rendered as Ruckpositiv)
der Schlager"a hit" (German "schlagen", to hit or beat)
der Schottischeliterally "Scottish", a folk dance
die Schuhplattlera regional dance from Upper Bavaria and Austria
das SingspielGerman musical drama with spoken dialogue
die Sitzproberehearsal of a musical stage work where singers are sitting and without costumes
der Sprechgesang und Sprechstimmeforms of musical delivery between speech and singing
der UntertongesangStrohbass
der Sturm und Drang"storm and stress", a brief aesthetic movement in German literature, just before Weimar Classicism
der Urtext"original text (of the composer)"
die Volksmusiktraditional German music
der WalzerWaltz
die Zukunftsmusik(literally "music of the future") vision of possibility of things to come