German Words to Avoid: A Special Slang Glossary

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Warning: This article may contain examples of the following language:

  • unanständig  dirty, obscene, indecent; improper, rude, ill-mannered
  • unanständige Wörter gebrauchen  to use four-letter words, bad language
  • die Unanständigkeit (-en)  dirty joke, obscenity
  • Unanständigkeiten erzählen  to tell dirty jokes

You may find some of the words and expressions contained in this German glossary objectionable.

 As with English, most should only to be used when and if you really know what you're doing. This article isn't explicitly (ha) meant to promote the use of these expressions, but to arm you with information. As Goethe said, a lack of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. 

Cursing and Swearing (das Fluchen)

While most swear words in English are sexual or have to do with your parentage, German leans more towards the scatological (having to do with excrement or feces). Although Germans sometimes borrow the English f-word, the German version is rarely used in swearing.

German terms roughly equal to American "bullsh--" or British "bollocks" include: 

  • der Bockmist
  • Scheiß reden
  • Scheiße!
  • Quatsch mit Soße

Donnerwetter!  Darn it!

Zum Donnerwetter! | Damn it! NOTE: This is normally a very mild German epithet, but like most "bad" words, it depends on the tone of your voice and how it is said. As an interjection of acknowledgement, it is more like "My word!

You don't say."

die Drecksau/der Dreckskerl  filthy swine, bastard

die Hölle  hell

  •    Fahr zur Hölle! = Go to hell!
  •    Zur Hölle mit... = To hell with...
  •    Sie machte ihm das Leben zur Hölle. = She made his life a living hell.

NOTE: Avoid anglicisms like was in der Hölle! Most English "hell" expressions are "Teufel" expressions in German.

Der Mist is a mild German word meaning "dung," "manure," or "rubbish/nonsense." However, when used in some compound words (der Mistkerldas Miststück), it is no longer fit for polite society!

  • der Mistkerl  bastard, dirty swine
  • das Miststück  bastard (m.), bitch (f.)

verdammt  damned, bloody

  • Verdammt! = Damn!/Dammit
  • Verdammt noch mal! = Damn it all!/Damn it to hell!/Bloody hell! (Br.)
  • Verdammter Mist! = Goddamn it!/Sod it! (Br.)

verflucht!  damn!

Verflucht noch mal! = "For chrissake!"/"Goddamn it!"

der Scheiß / die Scheiße

Variations of this German word [literally, sh--, crap, damn, bloody (Br.)] are so ubiquitous as to warrant an entire section of its own. It is important to know that the German and English versions of the s-word are not always equal. The English subtitles of German movies often mistranslate the German expletive Scheiße! Its use in German is frequently closer to English "Damn!" or "Dammit!" To say "This town really sucks," you could say: Diese Stadt ist echt Scheiße. Although it sometimes isn't as strong a curse word as English "Sh--!" that doesn't mean you should casually use Scheiße! in German. An expression such as Dieses Scheißauto! could mean "This f-ing car!" or "This damned car!" - depending on how it is said and by whom.

 

Scheiß- prefix  lousy, sh--ty, bloody (Br.), crappy, damned (thing). This prefix, like its cousin above, often should be translated as "damned" (thing), or something more mild than you might think. For instance, when a German says So ein Scheißwetter!, it only means that the weather is really bad: "Such awful weather!" By the same token, Diese Scheißpolitiker! means "These damned politicians!" (a universal complaint). 

  • scheißegal adj. of no damned importance
  • Das ist mir (dochscheißegal! I don't (really) give a damn/f---/sh-- (about that)!
  • scheißen  to sh--, crap
  • Du scheißt mich an! You're sh---in' me!/You're a pain in the ass!
  • Ich scheiß' d'rauf! I don't give a damn/f---/sh-- (about that)!
  • der Scheißkerl  bastard, son-of-a-bitch, motherf---er

Obscene Hand Gestures

While we don't include inappropriate gestures in this glossary, you should know that some hand signs or gestures are universal, but others are not.

In some parts of the world, the American OK sign (finger and thumb forming an "O") is an insult having to do with a body orifice. If a German taps his/her forehead with the index finger in someone's direction, that is a bad thing (meaning the other person is an idiot), and punishable by a fine if a policeman sees it or someone files charges.

Sexual Terms and Body Parts

Many of the terms in this glossary relate to human sexuality. Some of them have a double meaning that you should be aware of. If you refer to an animal's tail in German (der Schwanz), that's OK, but you should also know that the same term is a crude way of referring to the male sex organ. The German verb blasen can have many of the same multiple meanings that "blow" has in English. But if you want to enjoy a good German erotic novel, you'll find some of that vocabulary here as well.

blasen  to blow (fellatio)

  • jemandem einen blasen = to go down on s.o., do fallatio
  • Sie hat ihm einen geblasen. = She gave him a...

ficken  to f--k, have sex (vulgar), mit jemandem ficken = to f--k s.o.

NOTE: The German forms of ficken are used only in a sexual sense. Most English f-expressions are conveyed in German by the Scheiß- prefix, leck mich am Arsch (kiss my ass), or some other expression. Examples: "F--k him!" = Der kann mich doch am Arsch lecken!; "This f-ing car!" = Dieses Scheißauto!; "We were just f-ing with you." = Wir haben dich nur verarscht.; "F--k off!" = Verpiss dich!

geil horny. This word (along with supergeil) has become slang for "cool" or "great" in German. Das ist ja geil! = "That's really cool!"

die Eier (pl.)  balls, nuts (lit. eggs)

einhandsegeln (teen slang)  to jerk off, wank, spank the monkey

einparken (teen slang)  to have sex, get laid, bang

die Kiste  boobs, tits; (big) butt
   Die hat 'ne große Kiste. = She's got big tits.
   Note: In some regions, this can mean a "big butt" rather than boobs.

knallen  to bang, screw

der Knutschfleck (-en)  hickie, love bite

The Bottom Line

  • der Arsch = ass, arse; butt.
  • am Arsch der Welt = in the middle of nowhere, in a Godforsaken hole
  • am/im Arsch sein = to be screwed up
  • Das geht mir am Arsch vorbei! = I don't give a sh-- (about that)!
  • in den Arsch gehen = to get screwed up
  • Du kannst mich! (am Arsch lecken) = You can kiss my ass!
  • Leck mich am Arsch! = Kiss my ass!/F--- off!
  • Setz deinen Arsch in Bewegung! = Get your ass in gear!
  • er Arschkriecher/der Arschlecker (-)  ass-kisser, brown-nose
  • das Arschloch  a-hole=
  • der Po  bottom, behind, butt

kommen  to come, have an orgasm

der/das Kondom  condom. Also known by many slang terms: GummiPariser, etc.

die Möpse (pl.)  tits, boobs

pissen  to piss, pee. 

sich verpissen = to piss off, f--- off

der Sack (Säcke)  bag, sac, sack; scrotum, balls (testicles); bastard, bugger, sod

  • ein fauler Sack  a lazy bum, lazy bastard/bugger (degree of harshness depends on circumstances/tone of voice)
  • eine faule Socke  a lazy bum (less harsh than "fauler Sack")

die Sau  sow, bitch, bastard. alte Landsau  stupid old bitch, dumb bastard (lit., old country sow). Also see "Schwein" below! In German, words related to the pig (sow, swine) fill in for English terms of illegitimacy (bastard, son-of-a..., etc.). 

  • Sauprefix  bloody, damn, lousy
  • die Sauarbeit  damned/bloody/lousy work
  • das Sauwetter  damned/bloody/lousy weather

die Scham  shame; private parts, genitals, vulva (fem.)

das Schamhaar  pubic hair

scharf  hot, horny, sexually aroused

Ich bin scharf auf ihn.  I have the hots for him.

die Scheide  vagina. The Rammstein song lyric "bis der Tod der Scheide" is a play on this word and the phrase "bis der Tod euch scheidet" (till death you do part) in their song "Du hast." See full lyrics.

der Schwanz, die Schwänze, das Schwänzchen (diminutive)  tail, slang for penis

das Schwein  pig, bastard, son of a bitch, swine. This is one of the worst words in German! NEVER use it (or its compounds) unless you know what you're doing, and probably not even then! Ironically, Schwein haben means to be lucky: Wir haben Schwein gehabt. = We were lucky. (We came out smelling like a rose.)

  • Schweine-/Schweins-  (prefix) dirty, lousy (something/someone)
  • der Schweinehund/der Schweinekerl  bastard, swine
  • die Schweinerei (-en)  mess, scandal; dirty trick; indecent act, dirt, filth. Example: So eine Schweinerei! How disgusting!/What a dirty trick!

der Strich  prostitution; red-light district. auf den Strich gehen  to be a prostitute, ply her / his wares

der Teufel  devil

  • Zum Teufel! = "Dammit!"
  •    Wer zum Teufel hat das gemacht? = "Who the hell did that?"
  •    Der Teufel soll mich holen, wenn... = "I'll be damned if..."
  •    Geh zum Teufel! = "Go to hell!"
  •    Hol dich der Teufel! = "Go to hell!"
  •    Scher dich zum Teufel! = "Go to hell!"
  •    Der Teufel wird los sein. = "The s--t's gonna hit the fan." "All hell's gonna break lose."

die Unaussprechlichen (pl.)  one's unmentionables (humorous)

die Zuckerstange (slang)  penis ("candy cane")

German Slang Terms for Masturbation

Lest you think that German has an abnormally large number of terms for masturbation, let me point out that English does as well.

  • sich abzapfen
  • aus dem Handgelenk schütteln
  • den Fleischtopf rühren
  • den Schimmel schütteln
  • den Trumpf in die Hand nehmen
  • die Hände in den Schoß legen
  • die Ladung löschen, entsaften
  • die Handmassage
  • Häuptling Schnelle Vorhaut
  • hobeln
  • krumme Finger machen
  • Old Schüttelhand
  • sein eigenes Süppchen kochen
  • selbst ist der Mann
  • sich einen runterholen
  • sich einen von der Palme schütteln
  • sich entschleimen
  • sich Luft machen
  • Taschenbillard
  • das Übel an der Wurzel packen
  • wichsen

Derogatory Terms for Other People (Xenophobia, der Ausländerhass)

Like English and other languages, German has many derogatory and insulting terms for groups of people most of which, not surprisingly, should be avoided at all times. Some Germans, Austrians, and Swiss, particularly members of right-wing (rechtsextreme), neo-Nazi, or other hate groups, express their dislike of foreigners and other "enemy" categories (leftists, women, gays) with derogatory German slang terms. Because of their inflammatory nature, we have included only a few terms here, but others are easy enough to find elsewhere online.

Of interest, the simple German phrase I'm proud to be a German “Ich bin stolz, ein Deutscher zu sein.” is considered a typical German right-wing slogan. While in many countries, such a statement is considered normal and patriotic, in Germany it has overtones going back to the Nazi era. 

Other phrases associated with right-wing extremist groups include the following:

  • der Hitlergruß: Nazi salute (Hitler salute). A right-wing symbol of neo-Nazi groups such as the skinheads in Germany. Any display of Nazi symbols, the swastika, Nazi flags, or Nazi-related regalia is against the law in Germany.
  • Unarische non-Aryans
  • Undeutsche un-Germans
  • Rotfaschisten red fascists
  • Zecken ticks, blood-suckers
  • Rechte (Rightists)
  • Faschos fascists
  • Glatzen skinheads ("baldies")
  • Neonazis neo-Nazis
  • Rechtsextremisten extreme right-wingers
  • Skinheads skinheads
  • Unrechtssystem unjustice system
  • Unterrassen sub-races
  • weißer Spiesser  WASP ("White Anglo-Saxon Protestant")

More Insults

  • Subkulturen (Subcultures, e.g., Punks, Goths, etc.)
  • Dekadente decadents
  • Asseln/Assis/Asoziale asocials
  • Vertreter der Wirtschaft (Business People)
  • Kapital- und Politbonzen capitalistic and political fat-cats
  • Linke (Leftists)
  • der Piefke (PEEF-kah)  Kraut, Heini, Jerry (German person). Austrians use this word as a disparaging term for a German, somewhat like the Mexican use of "gringo" for an American. Even in Germany, a Piefke is a "pompous idiot," so it is not a word to be used lightly. Ein kleiner Piefke is a "little pipsqueak."

Bodily Functions

  • der Pups fart
  • furzen  to fart, cut one
  • pupsen to cut one, fart
  • die Kacke  caca, crap, sh--. Example: dann ist aber die Kacke am Dampfen. | Then the sh-- will really hit the fan.
  • die Flitzerkacke (teen slang)  the sh--s, diarrhea (der Durchfall)
  • kacken  to crap, poop, sh--
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Flippo, Hyde. "German Words to Avoid: A Special Slang Glossary." ThoughtCo, Apr. 18, 2017, thoughtco.com/german-words-to-avoid-special-slang-4071486. Flippo, Hyde. (2017, April 18). German Words to Avoid: A Special Slang Glossary. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/german-words-to-avoid-special-slang-4071486 Flippo, Hyde. "German Words to Avoid: A Special Slang Glossary." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/german-words-to-avoid-special-slang-4071486 (accessed September 19, 2017).