Special German Words on Mother Language Day

With the possibility of combining almost any set of words to create a new compound, German naturally contains many expressions that cannot be translated. A list of some of the most popular—and funniest—untranslatable German words.

picture-alliance/dpa - Untranslatable  German  Words
picture-alliance/dpa - Untranslatable German Words picture-alliance/dpa - Untranslatable German Words


A melancholy feeling of being completely alone in the forest.  Literally: forest loneliness.


English may have a phrase for the food you eat to comfort yourself when feeling low (comfort food), but German has Kummerspeck, a word for the inevitable weight gain that follows.


A friend you’ve known since childhood. Literally: sand box friend.


The present you get for your significant other when you know you’ve done something wrong and want to “appease the dragon” you know he or she is going to turn into when he/she finds out.  Literally: dragon food.


Seeing someone else do something so embarrassing that you feel embarrassed for them yourself. Literally: foreign shame.


A bad mother, usually used to describe a mother who is thought to spend too little time with her children.  Literally: raven mother.


The come back to the snide comment that you don’t think of until ten minutes later, when you’re already out the door and going down the stairs.  Also used to refer to a stupid joke, ridiculous behavior, or the irony of fate.  Literally: stair joke.


A face that looks like it needs a fist.  Literally: cheek whistle face.


The fear, as you age, that opportunities are vanishing from your life.  Literally: gate close panic.


English has “home sickness,” but it doesn’t cover the opposite emotion which this word embodies.  Fernweh is the feeling of missing being away.  Literally: Distance pain.


A personal favorite, Ohrwurm is the phrase you use to describe a song that is stuck in your head.


One of the strangest phrases on the list, this word refers to someone who is a coward.  Literally: glove snow ball thrower.

International Mother Language Day on 21 February



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