The road to German fluency is full of twists and turns.
Thanks to its lifelong love affair with compound nouns, the German language has smashed all manner of words together to form new, unique vocabulary.
It’s no small wonder that German boasts many unique, highly-specific words that have no literal English translation.
German learners have to slog through challenging pronunciations, complex word order, and curious vocabulary words.
It’s a lot of work.
You guy deserve some reward for all your hard work.
Luckily, you do have the special prize of learning fantastically creative new ways to express yourselves.
Many German words have no close translation in English. One of the greatest things about learning languages is to discover words which exist in one language but don’t have any equivalent in your own – or any other for that matter.
It’s always fun when you can express something in one perfect word, while others require a whole darn sentence.
Other languages sometimes get word-envy when comparing themselves to German.
Many German words have found their way into the English language, think Schadenfreude and Wanderlust.
However, there are many more beyond those two.
Below you can find some of the most entertaining examples including their literal translation and what they really mean.
1. Ohrwurm (Ear worm)
Have you ever listened to a song on the radio while driving to work only to find yourself still humming the same tune by lunch time? Congratulations, you’ve had an ear worm. The beautiful German word Ohrwurm describes the fact of having a song stuck in your head as if it wriggled itself into your brain through your ear.
2. Fernweh (Distance pain)
This gem describes the feeling of wanting to be somewhere else. It’s kind of like a reverse homesickness (Heimweh in German), a longing for a place that isn’t where you are right now. Fernweh is also a frequent reason for people in Germany to go on holiday.
3. Kummerspeck (Grief bacon)
When a relationship ends or during other times of sadness, anger, or worry, it’s common to put on a few pounds of Kummerspeck. What it means is the excess weight put on by emotional overeating. So when you find yourself on the couch watching “Bridget Jones’ Diary” with a tub of ice cream, you are in fact feeding your grief bacon.
4. Innerer Schweinehund (Inner pig dog)
Can’t get up in the morning to be on time for work? Too lazy to go to the gym? Homework remains undone until the last minute? Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. The blame lies with your inner pig dog. That’s the tiny voice in the back of your head which is trying to convince you to live a life of inertia and which you will have to overcome to rid yourself of Kummerspeck.
5. Fremdschämen (Exterior shame)
For those of you who cringe in phantom pain when others make a fool of themselves, this is your word. It describes the feeling of shame when seeing someone else in an uncomfortable or embarrassing situation. It’s a real thing for the more empathetic folk and has kept more than one person from watching “the Office.”