5 Awesome German Words You Need to Know

Berlin flea market

In the spirit of starting German classes again after a long nine month hiatus, I wanted to share five of my favourite German words. Although there are an incredible amount of fantastic words phonetically (krass, schade, etc.), I will limit myself to these ones as they don’t really have a one-word equivalent in English nor in French.


1. Stammtisch

Here’s a hint: think Cheers theme song or the MacLaren’s pub in How I Met Your Mother. What a pity there isn’t a word for it, right? If you’re part of a Stammtisch, you are in a group of – typically friends, that gathers around the same table, on the same day(s) of the week, in the same bar, at the same time – without fail. The bar owners set aside this spot just for your party knowing you’ll show up. No reservations needed. How lovely right? 

2. Muskelkater

You know that feeling of waking up the morning after a long run or an extra tough gym session? Neither do I! Jokes aside, the equivalent in English would be “muscle-hangover”. Brilliant, I know! The number of times you wanted to explain to your peers just how much your body aches after that HIIT class (because if you didn’t there would be no point in even going) but couldn’t quite find the word for it… Well now you do! So next time you’re thinking of skipping your post workout stretches, take a moment to thing about tomorrow’s potential Muskelkater.


3. Schadenfreude

Forewarning on this one, it isn’t nice. Basically, schadenfreude means to feel joy from other people’s pain, similar to gloating I suppose, but better. Often used to described a missed shot on goal, comical physical pain or general mishap in someone else’s life. For instance, when Timmy who was being a real turd at the park, throwing sand at everyone and screaming in people’s ears, unfortunately dropped his ice cream on the ground just as the ice cream truck drove away… what a shame. Poor Timmy. You get the idea!

4. Fremdschämen

Next we have Fremdschämen: To feel embarrassed or ashamed for someone else i.e second-hand embarrassment. Similarly to Schadenfreude, this one isn’t overly positive, but nevertheless definitely merits it’s own word. For example, witnessing theatre performers forget their lines, overhearing the couple on a terrible blind date at the next table, or my personal favourite – John Travolta presenting Idina Menzel at the Oscars and getting her name so unbearably wrong. I think we can agree that these situations all make you want to hold your face in your hands and say: “This is so unbelievably awkward and I wish it would end but I can’t stop watching!”.

Berlin Balcony

5. Feierabend

Finally, as this post is going up on a Monday, I suspect we can all appreciate this one. Literally translates to fire-evening, Feierabend is official term for after-work/school-me-time. Once all of your responsibilities, homework and engagements are done and dusted for the day, and the O.O.O. mindset officially kicks in. Here are examples of what one may do for Feierabend: watch a movie, have some dinner with friends, unwind in a nice warm bath, take a digestive evening stroll, Netflix and chill or even, sit in front of a crackling fire. If nothing else, it’s the time of day everyone looks forward to. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a lovely week ahead!

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