German words used in English

Posted in Miscellaneous

Due to the fact that for many German words there are no direct English equivalents, English has stolen quite a few - these are words we call "German loan words".

Below you can find as many as we could, the German word is shown (and sorted by) and then in brackets, the nearest actual meaning of that word in English.

Note also, than since over 99.5% of English speakers have no idea how to pronounce the letters ?, ?, ? and ?, they are often pronounced in English as if the umlaut were not there. Normally, in German, the umlaut can be replaced by simply adding an "e" after the umlauted letter, so that:
    ? becomes ae
    ? becomes oe
    ? becomes ue

And finally, the ? can be replaced by "ss" in English, making the "s" sound longer.

  • Achtung (attention)
  • Aha-Erlebnis/Aha-Effekt (autodidactic discovery)
  • Angst (a feeling of anxiety, apprehension, or insecurity)
  • Ansatz (one of the most used German loan words in the English-speaking world of science)
  • Blitz ("lightning", came to be known as a metaphor for "extremely fast"/a explicably fast maneuver or movement.)
  • Blitzkrieg (lightning war)
  • Bratwurst (sausage)
  • Doppelg?nger (a ghostly counterpart of a living person)
  • Drachenfutter (a gift brought home by a carousing husband to placate his wife, literally "dragon fodder")
  • Ersatz (being a usually artificial and inferior substitute or imitation)
  • Festschrift (a volume of writings by different authors presented as a tribute or memorial especially to a scholar)
  • Gastarbeiter (guest worker)
  • Gem?tlich (warmth,agreeably pleasant), Gem?tlichkeit (cordiality, friendliness)
  • Gesamtkunstwerk (comprehensive work)
  • Gestalt (epiphany, a structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts)
  • G?tterd?mmerung (literally - twilight of the gods; a collapse (as of a society or regime) marked by catastrophic violence and disorder)
  • Hausfrau (housewife)
  • Kaffeeklatsch (an informal social gathering for coffee and conversation)
  • Kindergarten (nursery, lit. Garden of children -- This is probably the best known German word in the whole wide world.)
  • Lebensraum (space required for life, growth, or activity, compare to Elbow room, Living-room')
  • Loanword (a word taken into another language; ironically a Loanword, a calque of the German Lehnwort)
  • Leitmotiv (a dominant recurring theme)
  • Lust (extreme wanting, desire; from Old English term, meaning "desire"; ultimately from a Germanic word which came from High German lust "wish, desire". In German, the word lust denotes simply "desire")
  • Meister ((master/teacher, Ex. Mr.; compare to Maestro) -- See also the words from Todesfuge: "Der Tod ist ein Meister aus Deutschland" by Paul Celan)
  • Mittelschmerz (middle pain, used to refer to ovulation pain)
  • Ostalgie (nostalgia for the former Eastern Bloc)
  • Ohrwurm (a catchy tune that gets stuck in one's head)
  • Poltergeist (a noisy usually mischievous ghost held to be responsible for unexplained noises)
  • Putsch (revolution; a secretly plotted and suddenly executed attempt to overthrow a government)
  • Realpolitik (politics based on practical and material factors rather than on theoretical or ethical objectives)
  • Sauerkraut (sour cabbage)
  • Schadenfreude (sadism, enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others)
  • Sturm und Drang (lit. "storm and stress"; turmoil)
  • ?ber (ultra, "very"), ?bermensch (superman/superhuman)
  • ?berfremdung claim that some aspect of a culture has been tooheavily penetrated by foreign influence
  • Ursprache (proto-language)
  • Waldsterben (deforestation)
  • Wanderlust (strong longing for or impulse toward wandering)
  • Weltanschauung (a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint)
  • Weltschmerz (lit. "world-pain"; mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state)
  • Wirtschaftswunder (designates the upturn experienced in the West German and Austrian economies after the Second World War)
  • Wunderkind (a child prodigy)
  • Zeitgeist ("spirit of the times"; actually a German calque originating from a Shakespeare translation)

This list is by no means complete, there are many many more.

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