German Slang: 36 Words & Phrases – StoryLearning (2022)

German Slang: 36 Words & Phrases – StoryLearning (1)

Are you learning German? Is the German language “getting on your cookie?”

In umgangsprache (German slang), this phrase means something is getting on your nerves. For a well-rounded understanding of the German language, you'll need to know some of the essential slang.

German slang words and phrases are a fantastic way to build your language skills. First, many of the expressions sound silly in English, so they're fun to learn and easy to remember.

Secondly, you can create entire conversations on slang alone!

In this post, I'll show you how to bring your German sentences to life with words and phrases that only natives use.

Stay tuned to the end for an example of one of those slang-only conversations. You'll be ready to start using authentic German slang in no time.

By the way, if you want to learn German fast and have fun while doing it, my top recommendation isGerman Uncoveredwhich teaches you through StoryLearning®.

WithGerman Uncoveredyou’ll use my unique StoryLearning® method to learn German vocabulary, slang and even tricky grammar naturally through stories. It’s as fun as it is effective.

If you’re ready to get started,click here for a 7-day FREE trial.

Colloquial German Greetings

German Slang: 36 Words & Phrases – StoryLearning (2)

There are just as many ways to greet someone in German as there are in English. Let's look at the most common everyday greetings.

#1 Moin

Moin, or good morning, is a hello you're most likely to hear in the far north of Germany, in cities like Hannover and Hamburg and all around the Nordsee (North Sea).

#2 Hallöchen

Adding –chen as an ending of a word makes it sound cuter or softer in German.

#3 Mahlzeit

This greeting is a way to say hello during lunchtime, especially at the workplace, or when you see someone eating.

#4 Na

The time-saving, na, is the ideal greeting for productive and punctual Germans.

#5 Servus

This greeting stems from the Latin, “at your service.” You'll hear this greeting (which actually means “goodbye” and “hello”) in Bavaria.

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Colourful Descriptions In German

German Slang: 36 Words & Phrases – StoryLearning (3)

Up next are descriptive words, mostly adjectives, that could come in handy during a conversation with native speakers.

#6 Assi

The closest meaning to Assi in English is “trashy.” This word is short for antisocial and is often used as an insult to talk about someone who you perceive as unemployed, uneducated, and without manners.

Example: Dein Verhalten ist Assi. (Your behavior is trashy.)

#7 Breit/Dicht

If you go out for a night on the town in Germany, you might end up breit, dicht, or in other words, “wasted.”

Example: Ich war gestern Abend dicht. (I was wasted last night.)

#8 Hammer

In English, we often say something is “amazing” or “awesome.” The German equivalent is Hammer, which is also a tool when used as a noun. The expression Hammer geil can be used to say how outstanding something is.

Example: Der Film war der Hammer. (The movie was terrific.)

#9 Irre

Irre is a common way of saying that something or someone is crazy.

Example: Bist du irre? (Are you crazy?)

#10 Jein

Jein is a favorite German colloquialism and is a combination of Ja and Nein, meaning an ambiguous yes and no.

Example: Hast du Zeit? Jein, macht's ganz kurz. (Do you have time? Yes and no, make it very short.)

In English, we might also say “yes, but” or “no, but.”

#11 Krass

To express how unbelievable, surprising, or extreme something is, use krass.

Example: Es ist krass wie schnell die Zeit vergeht. (It's unbelievable how fast time flies.)

#12 Sau

The word sau means “pig” in German. Adding sau to the beginning of a word is like adding “really,” or “so,” in English.

Example: Der Kuchen ist saulecker! (The cake is so delicious!)

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#13 Quatsch

Quatsch is a way of saying, “nonsense.”

Example: Was erzählt er mir für einen Quatsch? (What kind of nonsense is he telling me?)

German Slang Verbs

German Slang: 36 Words & Phrases – StoryLearning (4)

Next, let's look at some everyday slang verbs used in German.

#14 Abhauen

Tell someone to “go away” by saying, hau ab!

Example: Ich habe gesagt, du sollst abhauen. (I told you to get lost.)

#15 Bock Haben

This expression literally means “to have a steer.” However, in German, this phrase is used to say whether or not you feel like doing something.

  • Example: Hast du Bock ins Kino zu gehen? (Are you in the mood for the cinema?)
  • Example: Ich habe keinen Bock. (I'm not in the mood.)

#16 Chillen

Many German slang words are taken from English, such as chillen.

Example: Heute Abend chillen wir zu Hause. (Tonight we're chilling at home.)

#17 Fremdschämen

Sometimes, Germans feel ashamed on behalf of others. Experiencing this feeling is called fremdschämen. The literal translation of this word is “stranger shame.”

Example: Wie peinlich! Ich muss mich fremdschämen. (How embarassing! I feel so ashamed for that person.)

#18 Mampfen

Mampfen is another way to talk about eating in German.

Example: Wir schauen einen Film und mampfen Erdnüsse. (We're watching a film and munching on peanuts.)

#19 Spinnen

When Germans start to go crazy, they make spider webs, also known as spinnen.

Example: Ich glaube, ich spinne. (I think I'm going nuts.)

Use this phrase when you can't believe what's going on or what someone is doing.

#20 Zocken

The word zocken means “to play” in German. Depending on the context, zocken can also mean “to gamble” or “to play video games” more precisely.

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Example: Wir haben am Wochenende gezockt. (We played video games on the weekend.)

German Slang Nouns

German Slang: 36 Words & Phrases – StoryLearning (5)

Below, you'll find common colloquialisms for German nouns, that will impress your native German speaking friends when you drop them into conversation.

#21 Alter

Alter, or “the old one” is a common expression among teenagers. The English equivalent is “man” or “dude.”

Example: Was geht, Alter? (What's up, dude?)

#22 Besserwisser

This word means “better-knower” or know-it-all.

Example: Der Besserwisser zeigt uns wie es geht. (The know-it-all will show us how to do it.)

#23 Brüderlein/Schwesterlein

Add the ending –lein to say little brother or little sister.

Example: Ich liebe mein Schwesterlein. (I love my little sister.)

#24 Kater

When Germans drink too much, they typically get a Kater, or “hangover.”

You can even get specific about the type of hangover you have. For instance, when Germans exercise too much, they get Muskelkater or “sore muscles.” The literal translation is “muscle hangover.”

  • Example: Er hat einen Whiskey Kater. (He has a whiskey hangover.)
  • Example: Ich sterbe an Muskelkater. (I'm dying from sore muscles.)

#25 Kohle

In English, we call money “dough,” but for Germans, it's Kohle, or “coal.”

Example: Ich habe keine Kohle mehr. Ich bin pleite. (I don't have any more cash. I'm broke.)

#26 Kummerspeck

Do you know how some people cure their breakup blues with a gallon of ice cream? Kummerspeck, or “mourning bacon,” is the weight you gain through emotional eating.

Example: Ich habe zehn Kilo Kummerspeck zugenommen. (I gained ten kilos from emotional eating.)

Common German Slang Phrases

German Slang: 36 Words & Phrases – StoryLearning (7)

Some slang only comes in sentences. So, let's look at the most common German slang expressions, their translations, and meanings. Learning whole expressions like these is a good habit to get into, whether you're learning German or any other language.

Why? Well, it's great way to boost your vocabulary quickly, without worrying too much about German grammar.

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#27 Hast du alle Tassen im Schrank?

“Do you have all your cups in the cupboard?” This phrase means something along the lines of, “Are you nuts?” or “What were you thinking?”

#28 Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof

“Life is not a pony farm!” Germans often remind you to take life more seriously with this phrase, which means, “Life is not a game.”

#29 Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof

“I only understand train station” is what you say when you have no idea what someone is saying. In English, we say, “It's all Greek to me.”

#30 Nun haben wir den Salat

“Now we have the salad,” is what most Germans say when they mean, “Now the mess is made,” or “It's too late now.”

#31 Mit dem falschen Bein aufstehen

“Getting up with the wrong leg” is the same as “getting up on the wrong side of the bed” in English.

#32 Jemandem die Daumen drücken

“Pressing your thumbs for someone” is the same as “crossing your fingers for someone,” in that we wish them luck.

#33 Es ist mir Wurst

“It's sausage to me,” is just one of the meat-related colloquialisms Germans love to use. This phrase means, “I don't care.”

#34 Das Blaue vom Himmel versprechen

“Promise the blue of the sky” is a phrase that means “making a promise you can't keep.”

#35 Es läuft bei dir

“It's running with you” means that you're doing well for yourself, and are on your way to achieving your goals.

#36 Einen Elefanten aus einer Mücke machen

“Make an elephant out of a mosquito” is a German way of saying “make a big deal out of something.”

Example Conversation With The New Words & Phrases

Now it's time to put all these words and phrases into a dialogue. Discover how you can use German slang words from this post (in bold) in the conversation between two brothers below.

  • Thorsten: Mahlzeit Alter, was geht? (Hey man, what's happening?)
  • Michael: Servus! Bei mir läufts, und bei dir?(Hi! It's going good. How about you?)
  • Thorsten: Nicht gut, ich habe einen Kater. Ich war saudicht gestern.(Not good, I'm hungover. I was so wasted yesterday.)
  • Michael: Bist du irre? Das Leben ist kein Ponyhof.(Are you crazy? Life isn't a game.)
  • Thorsten: Das ist mir Wurst, Alter. Der Abend war der Hammer. Jetzt, mach keinen Elefanten aus einer Mücke. (I don't care, man. The evening was a blast. Now stop making a big deal out of it.)
  • Michael: Du sollst lieber zu Hause chillen und lernen, so wie ich. (You should chill and study at home, like me.)
  • Thorsten: Jetzt haben wir den Salat. (There's nothing we can do about it now.)
  • Michael: Du kannst auf dein Brüderlein hören. (You can listen to your little brother.)
  • Thorsten: Hau ab! Deine Besserwisserei geht mir auf den Keks. (Go away. Your know-it-allism is getting on my nerves.)
  • Michael: Jemand ist mit dem falschen Bein aufgestanden. Ich dachte, wir wollen heute zocken. (Someone woke up on the wrong end of the bed. I thought we wanted to play today.)
  • Thorsten: Ich habe auch einen krassen Muskelkater.(I have unbelievably sore muscles too.)
  • Michael: Also hast du mir nur das Blaue vom Himmel versprochen?(So you were just making empty promises?)
  • Thorsten: Quatsch! Nimm meine Kohle und hol uns was zum Mampfen. Danach chillen wir und lernen, so wie du gesagt hast. (Nonsense! Take my cash and get us something to eat. We'll chill and study, as you said.)

Enrich & Enliven Your German With Slang

So there you have it – 36 German slang words and phrases that will have you sounding like a native in no time.

Not only that, but these and other everyday slang phrases help you gain a better comprehension of the language. You'll not only sound more like a native when you speak, but you'll also have a better idea of what native German speakers are saying to you.

Also, the context of specific sentences will make a lot more sense when you know these everyday sayings.

So what you can do now is listen out for these new words and expressions as you immerse yourself in the German language, whether that's through German books or German podcasts.

As you make contact with the language, these words and phrases will become easier to learn, remember and use. And don't hesitate to try them out the next time you're chatting with a native German speaker – they'll be impressed!

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Do Germans still say Geil? ›

'Geil' is just about as omnipresent in Germany as bureaucracy and bratwurst. This colloquial word is commonly used by Germans of all ages and is an excellent way to make yourself sound like a native speaker.

What is a common German phrase? ›

10 common German phrases: the basics

Formal: Können Sie mir helfen?; informal: Kannst du mir helfen? (Can you help me?) Formal: Sprechen Sie English?; informal: In Sprichst du Englisch? (Do you speak English?) Einen Moment, bitte. (One moment, please.)

How do you respond to NA? ›

Na? This interjection might be confusing the first time you hear it. It can roughly be translated as “well?” and is mostly being used when greeting someone, albeit very informally. The most difficult part is to figure out what to answer, but here's our tip: just reply “na?” in return and you should be fine!

What are the 100 most common words in German? ›

100 most frequently used German words
  • der / die / das (def. art.) the; (dem. pron.) ...
  • und (conj.) and.
  • sein (verb) to be; (aux./perfect tense)
  • in (prep.) in [variation: im in the]
  • ein (indef. art.) a, an; (pron.) one (of)
  • zu (prep.) to, at; (adv.) too.
  • haben (verb) to have; (aux./perfect tense)
  • ich (pers. pron.) I.

What means Digga? ›

Digga is simply word you use when addressing a friend, like “mate”, “dude” or “bro”. It's older variation, Dicker, technically means “fat guy” but the most common use if the term has nothing to do with weight. What is its origin? Digga comes from Dicker, which is a very popular piece of slang originating from Hamburg.

What is the most offensive German word? ›

While die Sau is already very offensive, das Schwein is one of the worst German insults.

What does Klavier spielen mean in German? ›

piano. Klavier spielen to play the piano.

Do Germans still say jawohl? ›

Used in the military, but not exclusively by the Nazis

Jawohl was, and continues to be, used in a military context as an affirmative answer to an order from someone of a superior rank.

What's a German kiss? ›

Here's the answer... This weekend, a French friend told me that a German kiss is basically a French kiss but you swirl your tongue around in circles.

How do you say cool in German slang? ›

Geil is one of these words in German that you absolutely need to master if you want to talk like a native. Yes, it is rather informal but it is widely used among young people all over Germany and in most of the cases, geil simply means awesome/cool/great rather than referring to its other, somehow derogative meanings.

How do you respond to Wie gehts dir? ›

The question “Wie geht es dir?” literally (and forgive me the chopped-up English here) means: “How goes it to you?”. Now you should answer the same way the other person asked you, and therefore it needs to be “Mir geht es gut” OR in chopped-up English: “To me it goes good”.

What does Manno mean in German? ›

[ˈmano] , mannomann [ˈmanoman] interjection. (inf) boy, boy oh boy.

What is the coolest German word? ›

10 beautiful and memorable German words
  1. Sehnsucht. Amid different definitions, which vary from yearning, desire and/or craving, Sehnsucht is a feeling of longing for something unknown and indefinite. ...
  2. Weltschmerz. ...
  3. Torschlusspanik. ...
  4. Fernweh. ...
  5. Zweisamkeit. ...
  6. Backpfeifengesicht. ...
  7. Feierabend. ...
  8. Reisefieber.
9 Feb 2021

What is the hardest German word to say? ›

1. Eichhörnchen (Squirrel) Also a difficult one in English, this is a classic when it comes to difficult German words to pronounce.

What does moval mean in slang? ›

moval (plural movals) Removal (the transfer of one's home or business)

What is homie in German? ›

homie {noun}

Kumpel {m} [coll.]

What is brotha slang for? ›

Noun. brotha (plural brothas) (slang, African-American Vernacular or Jamaica) Pronunciation spelling of brother.

What is the oldest swear word? ›

Fart, as it turns out, is one of the oldest rude words we have in the language: Its first record pops up in roughly 1250, meaning that if you were to travel 800 years back in time just to let one rip, everyone would at least be able to agree upon what that should be called.

What is the longest single word in German? ›

1. Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung (36) Officially recognised by the Duden - Germany's pre-eminent dictionary - as the longest word in German, Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung is a 36-letter, tongue-tying way of describing a rather, mundane everyday concept: motor vehicle liability insurance.

How do you call a lover in German? ›

"Liebling" is about as close as German comes to the English "darling." While the expression contains the word for love - "Liebe" - it's also borrowed for other purposes. Liebling can be used as a prefix meaning "favorite." Your "Lieblingsbuch," for example, is your favorite book.

What does Musik Horen mean in German? ›

to listen to music. Musik hören. to listen to music in stereo.

What does QUEX mean in German? ›

Quex {m} [ugs.] [oft pej.] [often pejorative nickname for exceedingly eager and convinced National Socialist young men] [Germany, after 1933]

What is Feierabend? ›

The word “Feierabend” is a compound noun and consists of the two nouns “die Feier” (the celebration) and “der Abend” (the evening). This means that “Feierabend” means something like “the evening of celebration”.

Why do Germans say old Swede? ›

During the 30 Years' War, Electorate Friedrich Wilhelm of Brandenburg recruited experienced Swedish soldiers as instructors to the Prussian army. These men were seasoned fighters and supposedly became well respected and liked by the German troops, earning the nickname 'alter Schwede'.

Why do Germans say na ja? ›

Naja, or na ja can be translated to “well” and is an interjection, which means it's used to express a feeling. In the case of na ja, it's used to express either agreement or doubt.

What does Wohl Bekomms mean? ›

Translation of "wohl bekomms" into English

wohl bekomms. 12 / 999. your health.

How do you say sorry in German? ›

In German, you can say “Entschuldigung” or use the more informal abbreviation “'Tschuldigung”. The English word “Sorry” works, too. You'll hear it a lot, especially among younger people.

Are there any pretty German words? ›

Here are some of our, admittedly subjective, favorite pretty German words.
Beautiful German words.
39 more rows
8 Jun 2022

What do locals call Germany? ›

To name just a few of the endonyms for Germany: in the Scandinavian languages Germany is known as Tyskland, in Polish as Niemcy, in Portuguese as Alemanha,in Italian as Germania, in French as Allemagne, in Dutch as Duitsland and in Spanish as Alemania. Not to be forgotten, the exonym Germans use is Deutschland.

What are some easy German words? ›

Basic German Words
  • Guten Tag = Good day.
  • Hallo = Hello.
  • Auf Wiedersehen = Goodbye.
  • Bitte = Please.
  • Danke = Thanks, Thank you.
  • Entschuldigung = Sorry.
  • Gesundheit = Bless you (after someone sneezes)
  • Ja = Yes.

How many German words do you need to know to be fluent? ›

How many words do you need to be fluent in German? To be fluent in German, a speaker needs to know around 10,000 words.

What is a German lady called? ›

ˈfrau̇ plural Frauen ˈfrau̇(-ə)n. sometimes disparaging. : a German married woman : wife. used as a title equivalent to Mrs.

How does a German guy flirt? ›

Flirting In German: It's All In The Eyes

According to at least one Babbel insider living in Berlin, Germans have a tendency to stare and to hold intense eye contact. This doesn't mean all eye contact is sexy eye contact. It just means sexy eye contact could involve a little more “innuendo” than usual.

How do you greet a German woman? ›

Men usually greet women first and wait for them to extend their hand. Close friends may hug to greet and younger people may kiss one another on the cheek. "Guten Tag" (Good day) or “Hallo” (Hello) are the most common verbal greetings used in Germany.

What does Kuhl mean in German? ›

KÜHL is a German word that literally means “cool”.

What do Germans say when they cheer? ›

Prost! = Cheers! If there is one German phrase you learn during your time at Oktoberfest, let it be this one! Prost is a cheer that works for any social drinking occasion, and is easy enough for Americans to pronounce.

What does BAE mean in Germany? ›

bae [Am.] [ coll.] [ short for babe, baby] [term of endearment] Schatzi {n} [ugs.] [ Kosename unter Liebenden] bae [Am.] [

What is Wie Neu? ›

adjective. of condition, as new.

What is BIS Spater? ›

bis später adverb. see you later (zeitl.)

What is Wie geht's? ›

: how goes it? : how is it going? used as a greeting.

What does Koken mean? ›

noun. cookery [noun] the art or practice of cooking food. cooking [noun] the process of preparing food.

What does Wimmer mean in German? ›

Noun. Wimmer m (strong, genitive Wimmers, plural Wimmer, feminine Wimmerin) (Switzerland, viticulture) wine-maker; person who gathers grapes and processes them into wine synonyms ▲ Synonyms: Kellermeister, Weinbauer, Weinhersteller, Weinmacher, Winzer.

What does Killian mean in German? ›

Meaning:Church, bright-headed. The name Kilian is a boy's name with German and Irish origins. Kilian is a German variation on the Irish name, Cilian. In German, their spelling means “church” whereas the Irish name means to be “bright-headed”.

What is an insult in Germany? ›

The German word for insult is “Beleidigung”. To insult someone is to “beleidigen” them, as in “Er hat mich beleidigt.”

What do German call their lover? ›

Liebling (darling)

"Liebling" is about as close as German comes to the English "darling." While the expression contains the word for love - "Liebe" - it's also borrowed for other purposes. Liebling can be used as a prefix meaning "favorite." Your "Lieblingsbuch," for example, is your favorite book.

What is a female called in Germany? ›

Fräulein is the diminutive form of Frau, which was previously reserved only for married women. Frau is in origin the equivalent of "My lady" or "Madam", a form of address of a noblewoman. But by an ongoing process of devaluation of honorifics, it came to be used as the unmarked term for "woman" by about 1800.

What do you say before drinking in Germany? ›

Prost! Translation: Cheers! Toss on an “Ein Toast!” at the end to encourage a celebratory “bottoms up!” before drinking your Märzen with friends. Fun fact: if you find yourself in Switzerland with a beer in hand, you can substitute “Broscht!” for “Prost!” This is the Swiss-German way to say “Cheers!”

What does kerfuffle mean in German? ›

[kəˈfʌfl] (Brit inf) (= noise) Lärm m , Gedöns nt (inf); (= fight) Balgerei f (inf); (= trouble) Theater nt (inf)

Why do Germans knock on tables instead of clapping? ›

It is now customary for students to knock on their desks after each lesson or lecture. It is also seen as a sign of respect, so much so that some German academics even consider clapping to be disrespectful. It has been suggested that the reason for knocking being a mark of respect is due to professional social status.

What does zicke zacke zicke zacke Hoi Hoi Hoi mean? ›


Supposedly it means a toast, a toast, a cozy place. What we can tell you for certain is that it's chanted often, and really fun to say.

Why do Germans say Ach so? ›

Achso is a combination of ach which is generally translated as “oh”, or “alas” if you're feeling fancy, and so, which has a number of translations, including “so”, “right! ' and “yeah?”. The term ach so is used to express understanding.

What do Germans call their husband? ›

Schatz, meaning “treasure”, is one of the most common terms of endearment you'll hear in Germany, used equally among young lovers and couples who have been married for years, as well as for children. You can also mix it up by making it into a diminutive like “Schatzi” or “Schätzchen”.

What do Germans call their moms? ›

Immediate family members in German
10 more rows
15 Jun 2022

What do Germans call their babies? ›

Terms of Endearment for Children
Schnucki(kind of like) sweetie
Mausebärmouse bear
14 Apr 2021


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