Tag Archives: word meaning

19 German Compound Words with Surprising Translations: Mammutwörter and the Longest German, English and Welsh Words via @PatFurstenberg #german #english #translation #language

For many of us, myself included, learning German is like climbing the Himalayas Mountains. If the grammar or the articles don’t get to you, the compound words without exact translation into English will – because in some German compound words the stem words don’t keep their meaning. The beauty of it is that once you do learn their meaning you grasp their beauty.

Dreikäsehoch

Literally: Three + cheese + high

Meaning: the loving nickname you would give a small child who is only as tall as three wheels of cheese stacked on top of each other.

Precious! Reminds me of Heidi!

Dreikäsehoch - three cheese high

Eselsbrücke

Literally: donkey bridge

Meaning: a mnemonic device, a memory aide

Eselsbrücke - memory aide

Flak

Flak is an acronym for a pre – World War 2 anti-aircraft gun: Fliegerabwehrkanone

Fliegerabwehr means “defense against air attack” and Kanone means cannon.

Flak - defense against air attack

Fernweh

Literally: Distance + pain

Meaning: It describes the feeling you get when you want to be somewhere else, a yearn for the freedom and adventure of travel. Similar to wanderlust (see below).

Fernweh - desire to go far away

Handschuh

Literally: hand shoe

Meaning: glove

How very logical, right?

Handschuh - glove

Handschuhschneeballwerfer

Literally: Glove + snowball + throwe

Meaning: a wimp.

If you ever tried to through more than one snowball without your gloves on you will not agree with this meaning. I second that.

Kindergarten

 Literally: Children + garden

Friedrich Froebel, a 19th Century German educator, was one of the first to believe that children needed some formal education, through play and exploration, before primary school.

Froebel opened his first kindergarten in 1837, and the curriculum included playing with toys, playing games and singing songs. By the 1880s, kindergartens opened in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Hungary, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States.

The word itself came into English in 1852—the same year that Froebel died.

Kindergarten, coined by Froebel in 1837, adopted in English in 1852.

Kopfkino

Literally: head cinema

Meaning: your vivid imagination

Kühlschrank

Literally: cool + cupboard

Meaning: refrigerator

To the point!

Kühlschrank  - fridge

Meerschweinschen

Literally: Sea + little pig

Meaning: guinea pig

Meerschweinschen  - guinea pig

Nacktschnecke

Literally: literally: naked snail

Meaning:: slug

Ohrwurm

Literally: Ear + worm

Meaning: This describe that song stuck in your head, the one you are singing over and over again.

Ohrwurm - a  song stuck in your head

Schwarmerei

Not exactly a compound word, schwarmerei is derived from the German verb schwärmen, which means to swarm.

Schwarmerei refers to excessive and uninhibited enthusiasm and also puppy love.

Schwarmerei  - enthusiams, puppy love

Sturmfrei

Literally: Storm (tempest) + free

Meaning: When you have the house to yourself and everyone else is away

Sturmfrei - the feeling you have when you are, finally, home alone

I wonder who they refer to as the “tempest” here…

Tagedieb

Literally: day + thief

Meaning: a dilly-dallier, a lay about, a loafer

Tagedieb - laying about doing nothing

Torschlusspanik

Literally: Gate + shut + panic

Meaning: The fear we get, as we age, that time is running out and important opportunities are slipping us away.

Tick-tock, says your biological clock.

Torschlusspanik - the feeling we get that the time is running away

Treppenwitz

Literally: Stairs (staircase) + joke

Meaning: The joke you came up with but the moment to share it has already passed.

Treppenwitz  - a joke whose time has passed

Verschlimmbessern

Literally: Make something worse + to improve

Meaning: Making something worse by trying to improve it.

Sound like any home DIY to me…

Verschlimmbessern - something worse by trying to improve it

Wanderlust

Literally: Migratory / travelling + desire / appetite

Meaning: An aching desire to travel and get away.

Desire to turn into a peripatetic, a walking wanderer.

Wanderlust - desire to travel and get away

Weltschmerz

Literally: World + pain/ grief

Meaning: A feeling of melancholy or pessimism, of having lost all faith in the world and humankind.

The word Weltschmerz was born during the Romantic literary movement of the 19th century. It was first used it to describe Lord Byron’s cynical loathing for the world.

Weltschmerz - A feeling of melancholy or pessimism, of having lost all faith in the world and humankind.

Zugzwang

Literally: Pull / tug + force

Meaning: Forced to make a decision when under stress or pressure.

Zugzwang - forced to make a decision under pressure

The longest German composed word stretches at 80 letters:

Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft

The “Association for Subordinate Officials of the Head Office Management of the Danube Steamboat Electrical Services”.

The longest English word in the Oxford Dictionary has 45 letters:

Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis

“an artificial long word said to mean a lung disease caused by inhaling very fine ash and sand dust.

The longest word to be found in Britain is a Welsh place name with 58 letters:

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

The longest place name of the UK on a sign

You might like to read: 20 Afrikaans words with interesting English literal translations

Lesen Sie weiter:

Geliebte Kinderbücher von Patricia Furstenberg:

Der Gepard und der Hund

Der Elefant und das Lamm

Der Löwe und der Hund

JETZT AUF DEUTSCH - geliebte Kinderbücher
JETZT AUF DEUTSCH – geliebte Kinderbücher
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