Untranslatable Words 2: German

Untranslatable Words 2: German


In REMORANDOM #1 we presented you with ten words from around the world that have no clear and concise translation to English. For this issue we’d like to focus on some German words have no English equivalent. Genießen!

Translates as “punchable face” so you know exactly what this is, and who it might apply to in your world.

Someone who is obsessed with details and a bit of a control freak. Erbsen means “peas” and zähler means “tally.” So, an erbsenzähler is a person who literally counts their peas.

Literally translates to “far-sickness” and describes a certain longing and ache to travel to faraway lands and that feeling of being homesick about places you’ve never visited.

Beyond comfort, gemütlichkeit describes the entire experience of that one-of-a-kind warm and cozy and snuggly feeling of wellbeing. Voted the most beautiful German word in 2019.

Innerer Schweinehund
Have you ever felt extremely lazy, even though you have a great many things that needs to get done? Then you’re experiencing the effects of your inner schweinehund which translates to “inner pig dog”.

This extremely onomatopoeic word describes a chaotic situation or frustrating confusion that doesn’t make sense. It originally meant “dirty linen” in Low German, a West Germanic language spoken mainly in Northern Germany and the northeastern part of The Netherlands.

Kummerspeck literally means “grief bacon”. This word describes that time of your life where you’re just eating away the pain, the grief, and the heartache of your (say) breakup.

Coming from “schwärmen,” meaning to swarm, this word refers to excessive excitement or enthusiasm. If you imagine bees swimming excitedly around a beehive, that’s the kind of excitement someone with schwärmen expresses.

You’ve felt Sturmfrei the moment your parents or flat mates left you alone in your house. It describes the sense of freedom you get at having the place all to yourself. It comes from the combination of “storm” and “free”.

This word combines “gate-shut-panic” to illustrate the feeling you get when you realise that you’re getting older, and you don’t have much time left. It’s the realisation that you need to do something with your life, as it won’t last forever.

Treppenwitz is that feeling related to an unsaid response that forever haunts you because you never came up with it during that verbal exchange. It literally means “staircase joke” because you end up thinking of it when you’re already at the bottom of the staircase.

Have you ever felt disappointed after reading a sad news story? That feeling is Weltschmerz. It’s knowing that the world will always fail to meet your expectations because of the prevalence of pain existing throughout it. [Ed: Bummer]

Story Idea: Melanie Giuffré




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