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Seven Funny German Words, Worldwide

Funny German words, do they even exist? 

Truth be told, when I began to write an article about funny German words I didn’t really know where to turn.

When you learn a language for a long time, it stops sounding strange and exotic and just seems, well, normal.

You’ve got to come at it from a new, outside angle.

So what I’ve done here is searched through quite a few pieces written in other languages to find out what the world thinks the funniest German words are.

After all, if so many people agree on one thing, it must be true, right?

So here they are.

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Funny German words according to…

Das Sprunggelenk

First off, a word many Americans (including myself) love. It means “ankle” but literally comes out to “jump link.” I love it because the sounds just roll off the tongue so well. Besides, it fits the meaning perfectly when you think about it!

Mein Sprunggelenk ist geschwollen.
My ankle is swollen.

Die Verschlimmbesserung

This is a favorite in France. It describes a situation where you try to make things better but end up getting into a worse fix than when you started – literally a worsening-bettering!

Das war eine echte Verschlimmbesserung.
That was a real doozy.

Der Purzelbaum

Indonesians love this word for “somersault.” Der Purzel is a slang word for a cute little boy, a “rascal” if you will. When a Purzel stands on his hands, he becomes a little “rascal tree” – at least for a little while before he topples over!

Kannst du einen Purzelbaum schlagen?
Can you do a somersault?

Der Spuckschluck

This Russian favorite might make you shudder – the German word for “backwash” literally means “spit-swallow!” It’s also used to describe that last little bit of drink in the bottle that you’d rather not finish.

Schlucken is fairly close in meaning to “gulp,” as in “gulping something down.” Spucken means, “to spit.”

Lass keinen Spuckschluck in der Flasche stehen!
Don’t leave that last little bit in the bottle!

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Another favorite from the French. It’s probably not too hard to guess that this is a blend of Ja and Nein, making it a single word with “yes” and “no” connotations. While English “yes and no” is a slightly stilted and formal answer to an ambiguous question, German solves this problem very neatly.

Kennst du sie? Boah… jein?
Do you know her? Uhhh… yes and no?

Die Popelbremse

One more in the category of slightly gross words, this one is a hit among German learners in Spain. Der Popel refers to snot or mucus, and eine Bremse is a brake, like on a bike or car. What could a mucus-brake possibly mean? Well… a mustache!

Er hat eine kleine Popelbremse.
He has a little mustache.


Last on the list but favorite in my opinion, I was initially confused why so many Chinese people would think the German word for “goodbye” is so funny. Only later did I find out that its pronunciation is remarkably similar to the Chinese phrase 去死 (qu si) meaning “go die!” Can you imagine the hysterics in every introductory German class in China?

Wir sehen uns morgen! Tschüss!
See you tomorrow! Bye!

By the way, have you ever wondered what the best way to pick up all the German words is, not just the funny ones?

It turns out it’s a mixture: a little bit of vocabulary study and a lot of reading of content that’s really interesting to you. It’s even better when you’re using content YOU enjoy.

Learn German using content you love

Imagine learning a German through a host of funny, interesting, and intelligent content. For example, you could learn German simply by watching YouTube.

That’s where LingQ comes in. Simply put, using LingQ is the best way to learn German because you can turn content you enjoy into easy-to-follow lessons. Simply import your favorite German content from the web into LingQ where you can read, listen, look up, and save you vocabulary in one platform for quick access.

For example, I’ve got quite the collection of popular German songs lying around on my computer. Here’s what a lesson on LingQ looks like after I’ve imported one of the songs from my library, The Beatles’ Sie liebt dich.

Learn German on LingQ

Using the transcript and audio, LingQ can turn any song, video, and so on into a lesson. Pretty cool, right?
LingQ’s language learning apps are available for both Android and iOS. Give it a try today and learn German using your favorite content. Enjoy.

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