9 Funny (and Sometimes Quite Logical) German Words

Germans can make up some more-than-logical words and expressions. But sometimes they do come up with surprising words to express simple things.

9 Funny (and Sometimes Quite Logical) German Words image

One of the joys of learning another language is discovering all of its quirky, unusual, and sometimes unexpectedly logical words, idioms, and expressions. We’ll be bringing you some of our favorite words and expressions from the languages we teach every month. If you want more, be sure to check out our Instagram!

Germans have always constructed words with implacable logic… although sometimes the combinations of words are more than questionable. Let’s review 9 of those most German words and expressions.

1 - Der Drahtesel

Knowing that “Draht” means wire and “Esel” means donkey doesn’t really help you understand what “der Drahtesel” is supposed to be. A wire-donkey? In German, you would actually use this word to talk about a bike. But mainly when speaking about an old, rusty bike. One of those that often looks like it’s going to fall apart completely.


2 - Der Wasserhahn

Here’s another one of these times when the German language proves it’s not always the most logical one. “Wasserhahn” means a tap or a faucet. But who knows why this word literally means a water rooster. So try to remember next time you turn on your tap in the kitchen, you may be toying with some kind of weird little rooster.


3 - Der Scheinwerfer

What do headlights do? Well, they throw shine of course! So if you hear Germans talking about “Scheinwerfer” (literally shine-thrower) they do not mean some kind of crazy person throwing lights around. This word actually means headlights.


4 - Die Speisekarte

This one’s pure German logic. “Speisekarte” literally means dish card and is a list of dishes served by the restaurant. It is what an English speaker would mean by the word menu. And watch out, a German “Menü” is something rather different. It represents a full meal of multiple courses.


5 - Die Schildkröte

Well of course a turtle and a toad look the same - said no one ever. Except Germans who call turtles shield-toads.


6 - Der Stubentiger

Your furry feline friend probably thinks she rules the house, so this German word is a very apt way of describing her. “Der Stubentiger,” or the room tiger, is a common way to talk about a cat in German - although the most common word is of course “die Katze”.


7 - Feuchtfröhlich

This one might come in handy for the weekend. “Feuchtfröhlich” (literally wet and happy) is an adjective for describing those situations where the alcohol is flowing - a boozy evening (“ein feuchtfröhlicher Abend”), for example.


8 - Innerer Schweinehund

You know that little voice in your head that’s always justifying that extra donut, one last beer, or just a few more minutes in bed? We certainly do. Yep - in German, that’s your “innerer Schweinehund” (literally inner pig-dog). The best English equivalent would be one’s “weaker self.”


9 - der Absacker

“Der Absacker” is the German word for nightcap - an alcoholic drink straight before bed. Although we reckon it’s used these days more so as a way to justify having that “one last drink.”


That’s it for our first selection. But if you’d like to discover more quirky words and expressions you can follow us on Instagram or stay tuned till our next selections by joining us on Twitter or Facebook.


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