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Learning a language is more than just memorizing vocabulary lists, but building up your vocabulary is an important step towards fluency.
One other handy way to make learning German words easy is to make it fun and by focusing on learning funny German words. Take a look at this list of words that will not just improve your vocabulary but make you laugh as well.
The following German words may sound a bit funny to first-time language learners, but they are actually often very accurate ways to describe people, events, and feelings.
After the initial chuckles subside, you will find that these words can be quite useful to know and use in conversation.
English meaning: No good excuse
Erklärungsnot translates to “explanation poverty” and is used by German speakers to say that they or someone else have no good excuse for the situation they have found themselves in.
This is usually used to shrug off mild troubles, such as not finishing your homework or being caught in a small lie.
English meaning: Earworm
This is the German term for what’s known in English as an “earworm”. This refers to the concept of getting a song stuck in your head. It can be a few bars of the melody or a lyric.
English meaning: Deserves a slap
This funny German word is a bit of a mouthful, but it can be a handy way to describe someone who is mildly annoying.
The literal translation is something like “slap face” and it’s basically a slightly jokey way of saying that someone is acting in a way that deserves a slap in the face.
Context and company is key to using this word properly. If you say it jokingly among friends, it might be taken in good humor. But it could also be taken as an insult so, be careful.
English meaning: Play a scene in your head
This funny German word translates to “head cinema” and basically refers to the act of playing out a scene in your head. So thinking about what you are going to do and seeing out all the steps in your head.
English meaning: Tongue twister
The translation of this funny German word actually sounds a bit painful. It means “tongue breaker” but its actual equivalent is “tongue twister” in English. These terms refer to a sentence or phrase that is considered hard to pronounce because it consists of words that sound similar. In English and German, saying phrases like this are often used as fun challenges for language learners.
English meaning: Air castle
Someone who builds “air castles” in German is someone who likes to daydream. It’s a bit more solemn than just a daydream though as what the dreamer is thinking about is usually considered unachievable.
English meaning: Negative person
This translates to “wretched Peter” and it is used to describe someone who always sees the negative. They never believe that anything will turn out right and think that.
English meaning: Panic felt during a deadline
This is a succinct term used by German speakers to describe the panic that you might feel when facing an impending deadline.
It translates to “closing gate panic” and means being fearful of time running out.
English meaning: Talking nonsense
This funny German word translates to “balderdash head”. Balderdash means “nonsense” and this basically is used to describe someone who has a lot of weird and nonsensical ideas that they are not shy about talking about.
English meaning: Tired of it all
German speakers use this to describe the feeling of being utterly, spiritually tired. It’s a rather gloomy term and can actually come off as slightly suicidal so be careful how you use it.
English meaning: Melancholy
Like “lebensmüde” this is one of those funny German words that talks about something rather serious. It’s basically translated to “world pain” and means feeling melancholy or sad for no known or real good reason.
English meaning: Wanting to be elsewhere
This German word can be translated to the English term “homesick” but can also mean wanting to go on vacation. Basically, a longing for a distant place that is either familiar, like home, or “different” like a dream vacation destination.
English meaning: Bad plan
The translation of this word is “schnapps idea” or, in English “booze idea”. This refers to a plan or idea that only makes sense or sounds good because one is slightly drunk.
If one was sober, one would never think a “schnapsidee” was a good or feasible idea. It’s similar to a drunk person saying “hold my beer” before attempting something they never would if sober.
English meaning: Beanpole
This funny German word is used to describe someone who is very tall and thin, the equivalent of the English term “beanpole”.
English meaning: Headlights
The literal translation of this word is “shine thrower” and it refers to what headlights are meant to do, shine the light around in the dark.
English meaning: Last drink
This is the German word that is used for the last drink of the night. So, when you are about to go home but agree to have the last drink, it is the “absacker”.
The following funny German words may not make sense when you initially encounter them. That’s because what they translate to usually doesn’t have anything to do with what they actually mean.
It’s defiantly worth your time to go through this list and take note of how a native speaker would use them. That way when you hear them in conversation, you will understand what is being said.
English Translation: Soft egg
English meaning: Coward
While this funny German word can be literally translated as “soft egg”, it is not a cooking term. Rather, it’s a mild insult.
If a German speaker calls someone a “weichei” they are saying that they are cowardly. It is also implied that they are weak-minded, that they are just going along with the crowd instead of taking a stand.
It can also, however, be said among friends as good-natured teasing. So, just be a bit cautious about how you use this phrase.
English translation: Grief bacon
English meaning: Gained weight because of stress eating
This is another of those funny German words that sounds like it is a cooking term but is not.
This refers to the weight that you might have gained after going through a stressful or sad period in your life. Since many people find themselves eating more “comfort food” during these periods and comfort food often is sugary or fatty or not too healthy, they might find that they develop Kummerspeck.
English translation: Tumble tree
English meaning: Somersault
While this word sounds like it could refer to a plant or maybe playground equipment, it actually refers to “childish” antics. It basically means a somersault on the ground, not necessarily a graceful one like a trained gymnast might do but an exuberant but sloppy one a child at play might do.
English translation: Dish card
English meaning: Menu
This is one of those funny German words that actually are very practical to know. Though it translates to the rather funny-sounding phrase “dish card” it just refers to a menu. Remember this for when you dine out!
English translation: Staircase joke
English meaning: Snappy comeback that came to late
This refers to a snappy comeback or wise answer that you wish you had thought of earlier. This is similar to a winning argument you only came up with after the debate or conversation has already ended.
English translation: Three kinds of cheese high
English meaning: Short
This is a cheeky and funny German word that is used to describe a short person. It is often used affectionately for a small child.
English translation: Pleasure plug
English meaning: Chubby
This is another of those funny German words that are affectionate or cute when used on a child, but maybe a little insulting if used to describe an adult.
In general, however, this is used to imply that someone is “cute chubby”, so nicely rounded or warm and cuddly. It’s not meant to say that someone is obese or grossly fat.
English translation: Shadow parker
English meaning: Unmanly behavior
This is a rather funny but complicated jab at a man. Someone who is a “shadow parker” is someone who engaged in “unmanly behavior”. Sort of like a coward but more.
The idea behind this is the idea that parking a car in the shade because you don’t want to feel the head is “unmanly”, so being a “shadow parker” is insulting.
English translation: Showers with warm water
English meaning: Unmanly behavior
Similar to “schattenparker” as someone who showers with warm water was considered “unmanly.”
English translation: Pisses sitting down
English meaning: Unmanly behavior
Again, this describes “unmanly behavior” and is a mild insult for a man.
English translation: Cucumber squad
English meaning: Bunch of losers
This is a fun if rather mean term that is used in sports. If a team is on a losing streak or isn’t performing well, they are “gurkentruppe”.
English translation: Umbrella gentleman
English meaning: Patron
This term originates from the Medieval era where it meant a nobleman who shielded or protected an institution. Now it means a patron, someone who supports a good cause or institution, often financially.
English translation: Hip gold
English meaning: Excess fat
German’s use this funny word to refer to something they only wish was gold or valuable. It refers to excess fat that some carry on their hips or waist. If fat was gold, gyms might not be so crowded with people trying to lose it!
English translation: Wire donkey
English meaning: Bike
This is one of the funny German words that German speakers use to refer to a bicycle. It’s the informal term so it’s kind of the equivalent of the bike.
English translation: Drive wheel
English meaning: Bicycle
This is the formal German term for a bicycle.
English translation: Water rooster
English meaning: Faucet
For some reason, this is what a German speaker calls a faucet.
English translation: Room tiger
English meaning: Cat
As any cat owner will tell you, a cat prowls around the rooms of its home like it is the owner, not the pet. This is an apt affectionate description then for a beloved house cat.
To gain fluency in any language it’s important to learn words and phrases that might initially “sound funny” but are actually a common part of the vocabulary of native speakers.
Learning funny German words such as the ones we listed above, as well as German expressions, idioms, slang words, and even swear words, will help you understand German speakers better and enable you to have meaningful conversations in German.
We suggest that you download our PDF of funny German words here and go through them with a native German-speaking tutor. They will help you learn how to pronounce them correctly and guide you on when it is appropriate to use these words and when it’s best to choose other ones.
Don’t forget to ask your tutor what are some funny German words they think you should learn as well! It’s a great way to build up your mental library of essential vocabulary words.
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