7 German Words With No English Translation

German is a complex language full of tricky grammar rules and long words such as ‘grundstücksverkehrsgenehmigungszuständigkeitsübertragungsverordnung‘ which is a term to delegate land, in case you were curious. But more interestingly, it is full of words with no English equivalent. Some of which you never even knew you needed a word for, like when you get a song stuck in your head or the itch to travel someplace new. Whether you are practising German or just lingually curious, here are seven German words with no English translation.

German Words With No English Translation

1. Fernweh

Literally translated as ‘far pain’ the term ‘fernweh’ is a longing for unseen or unknown places. A feeling and desire to be somewhere you’ve never been, somewhere far, far away. Literally the exact opposite of homesickness.

2. Ohrwurm

Everyone can relate to this one. ‘Ohrwurm’ directly translates to ‘ear worm’ and is a term for a song that’s stuck in your head and just won’t go away. You hum it on the train, in the shower, eating breakfast, watching TV – you’ve got an ohrwurm.

3. Torschlusspanik

The term torschlusspanik or ‘gate-shut-panic’ is the overwhelming fear that the time to act has passed. Torschlusspanik is the feeling you get when you realise that time is running out and you may have missed your shot. Sound familiar? A slightly similar English phrase would be a ‘mid-life crisis.’

german words no english translation

4. Erbsenzähler

We all know someone who is obsessed with every minute detail and yes, could definitely be described as a control freak. In German, they’d refer to that someone as an ‘erbsenzähler.’ The word ‘erbsen’ means ‘peas’ and ‘zähler’, ‘talley.’ Therefore, an erbsenzähler is someone who ‘counts peas’ literally or metaphorically.

5. Sturmfrei

Sturmfrei or ‘storm free’ is the sensation you get when your parents, flatmates etc. leave the house and you’ve got the place to yourself. When you’re ‘sturmfrei’, you can crank up the music and indulge in whatever weirdness suits you when you’re alone.

german words no english translation

6. Luftschloss

Luftschloss or ‘air-castle’ is a term used to describe ideas (or the people who have them) that are so far fetched they might even be considered delusional. It’s not a flattering term either and quite different from a ‘daydreamer.’ The word is generally used for someone who needs a reality check.

7. Schnapsidee

Literally translated as ‘schnapps idea’, a ‘schnapsidee’ is an idea that’s so ridiculous you must be drunk. So, next time your friend suggests something absolutely crazy, you can respond with ‘was ist denn das für eine schnappsidee?’ or, ‘what sort of schnapps idea is this?!’

german words no english translation

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Melanie Hamilton
Melanie Hamilton

Melanie is an avid traveller with a passion for history and global foods. She is currently based in Tbilisi, Georgia where most of her time is occupied with qvevri wine and Soviet history. Having do-si-do'd her way across Europe and Latin America, she's enjoyed some of the world's most exciting places firsthand and can't wait to tell you about them.

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