131 quirky, cool & beautiful German words + 8 of the longest!

While learning German and building your vocabulary, you’ve already learned all about the beautiful German words for flowers, birds and colors, but you still haven’t found your favorite German word, yet?

Look no further. We have collected some of the prettiest and quirkiest German words for you that will absolutely make you fall in love with the language.

Here are three reasons why German words are so amazing.

  • They’re versatile

    Some German words are surprisingly soft and easy like “lila” (purple), while others sound more like “Geschirrklirren” (the clinking of dishes).
  • They’re very logical

    In German, a fridge is a “cool-cabinet” (Kühlschrank) and a lightbulb is a “glow-pear” (Glühbirne). Now you can’t deny, that makes a lot of sense!
  • They’re hilariously long

    Get ready for “Rechtsschutzversicherung”, “Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit” and some even longer ones. We’ll teach you words with up to 57 letters, plus the true reason why German words are so long.

Beautiful German vocab

You can find some of the most beautiful German words and meanings when you learn all the ways to say I love you and how to give the nicest compliments in German.

German may not be known as a particularly pretty language, but you’ll find a subtle beauty in many German words, even where you wouldn’t expect it.

The beautiful German word Schmetterling may not match the pretty looks of a butterfly, but it does match its hidden power.

For example, the German word for “butterfly” is “Schmetterling”. “Schmettern” means “to dash” or to “shatter”, and “ling” means “something small”. After all, the butterfly effect says that one “Flügelschlag” (the flap of a wing) can cause a hurricane at the other end of the world through a chain reaction.

So the German word “Schmetterling” may not match the pretty looks of the butterfly, but it does match its hidden power. That’s the true beauty of the German language. Its words are packed with subtle meaning. That makes it so precise and powerful.

Beautiful German words

Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Not everyone is going to find these unique German words beautiful - but we do!

Here are some of our, admittedly subjective, favorite pretty German words.

German IPAEnglish
filigran[filiˈɡʁaːn]delicate
lila[ˈliːla]purple
glasklar[ˈɡlaːsˈklaːɐ̯]crystal clear
putzig[ˈpʊt͡sɪç]cute
schnucklig[ˈʃnʊklɪç]cozy, cute
zauberhaft[ˈt͡saʊ̯bɐhaft]enchanting
märchenhaft[ˈmɛːɐ̯çənhaft]fairytale-like
sorgenlos[ˈzɔʁɡn̩loːs]carefree
flattern[ˈflatɐn]to flutter
kleckern[ˈklɛkɐn]to spill food
zerspringen[t͡sɛɐ̯ˈʃpʁɪŋən]to burst
summen[ˈzʊmən]to hum
verstecken[fɛɐ̯ˈʃtɛkn̩]to hide
Mirabellen[miʁaˈbɛlən]cherry plums
Flügelschlag[ˈflyːɡl̩ˌʃlaːk]flap of a wing
Libelle[liˈbɛlə]dragonfly
Schmetterling[ˈʃmɛtɐlɪŋ]butterfly
Qualle[ˈkvalə]jellyfish
Papagei[ˌpapaˈɡaɪ̯parrot
Himmel[ˈhɪml̩]sky
Kastanie[kasˈtaːni̯ə]chestnut
Lichtung[ˈlɪçtʊŋ]clearing
Flieder[ˈfliːdɐ]lilac
Sternschnuppe[ˈʃtɛʁnˌʃnʊpə]shooting star
Kuddelmuddel[ˈkʊdl̩ˌmʊdl̩]mess
Kristall[kʁɪsˈtal]crystal
Goldstaub[ˈɡɔltˌʃtaʊ̯p]gold dust
Perlentaucher[ˈpɛʁlənˈtaʊ̯xɐ]pearl diver
Gemütlichkeit[ɡəˈmyːtlɪçkaɪ̯t]coziness
Flummi[ˈflʊmi]bouncy ball
Glassplitter[ˈɡlaːsˌʃplɪtɐ]splinter of glass
Waschtisch[ˈvaʃˌtɪʃ]vanity
Wirrwarr[ˈvɪʁvaʁ]huddle
Allee[aˈleː]avenue
Winterwald[ˈvɪntɐvalt]winter forest
Brieftaube[ˈbʁiːfˌtaʊ̯bə]letter pigeon
Erdreich[ˈeːɐ̯tˌʁaɪ̯ç]earth
Pfefferminze[ˈp͡fɛfɐˌmɪnt͡sə]peppermint
Schneeengel[ˈʃneːˌʔɛŋl̩]snow angel
Kronleuchter[ˈkʁoːnˌlɔɪ̯çtɐ]chandelier
Elfe[ˈɛlfə]pixie
Ananas[ˈananas]pineapple
Symphonie[zʏmfoˈniː]symphony

Beautiful German phrases, sayings, and quotes

Some German phrases and sayings may sound confusing if you try to translate them word by word but those are especially fun. Can you guess what it means if someone is “stepping on your cookie” or “saying something through the flower”?

Bis über beide Ohren grinsen, is a beautiful Germany saying which means to give a big smile.

German IPALiteral meaningActual meaning
Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof[ɪç fɛɐ̯ʃte:ə nu:ɐ̯ ba:nho:f]I only understand train station.I don’t understand what’s going on.
Aus allen Wolken fallen[aʊ̯s alən vɔlkən falən]To fall from all clouds.To be shocked.
Das ist mir Wurst[das ɪst mi:ɐ̯ vʊɐ̯st]That’s sausage to me.I don’t care.
An dir ist Hopfen und Malz verloren[an di:ɐ̯ ɪst hɔp͡fən ʊnt ma:lt͡s fɛɐ̯lo:ʁən]Hops and malt is lost on you.You’re hopeless.
Du gehst mir auf den Keks[du: ge:st mi:ɐ̯ aʊ̯f de:n ke:ks]You’re stepping on my cookie.You’re annoying me.
Bis über beide Ohren grinsen[bɪs y:bɐ baɪ̯də o:ʁən gʁɪnzən]To smile above both ears.To give a big smile.
Strahlen wie ein Honigkuchenpferd[ʃtʁa:lən vi: aɪ̯n ho:nɪçku:xənp͡ffe:ɐ̯t]To shine like honey-cake-horse.To look very happy.
Ich glaub mein Schwein pfeift[ɪç glaʊ̯p maɪ̯n ʃvaɪ̯n p͡faɪ̯ft]I think my pig is whistling.I can’t believe this.
Über seinen Schatten springen[y:bɐ zaɪ̯nən ʃatən ʃpʁɪŋən]To jump over one’s shadow.To do something you’re afraid of.
Da haben wir den Salat[da: ha:bən vi:ɐ̯ de:n saˈlaːt]There we have the salad.As expected, something bad happened now.
Sich aus dem Staub machen[zɪç aʊ̯s de:m ʃtaʊ̯p maxən]To get away from the dust.To take off, leave.
Jetzt sitzen wir in den Tinte[jɛt͡st zɪt͡sən vi:ɐ̯ ɪn de:n tɪntə]Now we’re sitting in the ink.Now we have a problem.
Auf dem Schlauch stehen[aʊ̯f de:m ʃlaʊ̯x ʃte:ən]To stand on the hose.To not understand something obvious.
Mir fällt ein Stein vom Herzen[mi:ɐ̯ fɛlt aɪ̯n ʃtaɪ̯n fɔm hɛɐ̯t͡sən]A stone is falling from my heart.That takes a load off my mind.
Jetzt mal Butter bei die Fische[jɛt͡st ma:l bʊtɐ baɪ̯ di: fɪʃə]Put butter on the fish now.Get to the point.
wie Kraut und Rüben[vi: kʁaʊ̯t ʊnt ʁy:bən]Like weeds and turnips.Higgledy-piggledy, messy.
Nicht alle Tassen im Schrank haben[nɪçt alə tasən ɪm ʃʁaŋk ha:bən]To not have all the mugs in the cabinet.To be not right in the head.
Das kannst du dir abschminken[das kanst du: di:ɐ̯ apʃmɪŋkən]You can wipe that off your face like make-up.You can forget about that (plan, idea etc.)
Etwas durch die Blume sagen[ɛtvas dʊɐ̯ç di: blu:mə za:gən]To say something through the flower.To hint at something.
Da steppt der Bär[da: ʃtɛpt de:ɐ̯ bɛ:ɐ̯]That’s where the bear is tapping.There are a lot of people there having a good time.
Sich wie ein Elefant im Porzellanladen benehmen[zɪç vi: aɪ̯n e:le:fant ɪm pɔɐ̯t͡sɛlanla:dən bəne:mən]To act like an elephant in the porcelain shop.To be clumsy.
Nah am Wasser gebaut sein[na: am vasɐ gəbaʊ̯t zaɪ̯n]To be built close to the water.To cry easily.
Süßholz raspeln[zy:shɔlt͡s ʁaspəln]To ooze charm.To shred licorice.
Eine treulose Tomate[aɪ̯nə tʁɔʏ̯lo:zə tɔma:tə]A traitorous tomato.Someone disloyal.

Other cool and quirky German words

Here are some of those very literal German words, guaranteed to evoke a distinct picture in your mind. A slug, for example, is a“naked snail” (Nacktschnecke) and gloves are “hand shoes” (Handschuhe) - a little quirky but a lot of fun!

Man laughing while reading some cool and quirky German words.

German IPALiteral meaningActual meaning
Wortschatz[ˈvɔʁtˌʃat͡s]word-treasurevocabulary
Kühlschrank[ˈkyːlˌʃʁaŋk]cool-cabinetfridge
Glühbirne[ˈɡlyːˌbɪʁnə]glow-pearlightbulb
Angsthase[ˈaŋstˌhaːzə]fear-bunnyscared person
Erbsenzähler[ˈɛʁpsn̩ˌt͡sɛːlɐ]pea-counternitpicker
Schlittschuhe[ˈʃlɪtˌʃuːə]slide-shoesice skates
Sehenswürdigkeit[ˈzeːənsˌvʏʁdɪçkaɪ̯t]see-worthinesssight
Meerschweinchen[ˈmeːɐ̯ˌʃvaɪ̯nçən]sea-piggyguinea pig
Nacktschnecke[ˈnaktˌʃnɛkə]naked-snailslug
Seehund[ˈzeːˌhʊnt]sea-dogseal
Drahtesel[ˈdʁaːtˌʔeːzl̩]wire-donkeybike
Kunstflug[ˈkʊnstˌfluːk]art-flightstunt flying
Gänsefüßchen[ˈɡɛnzəfyːsçən]little geese feetquotation marks
Himmelbett[ˈhɪml̩ˌbɛt]sky-bedcanopy bed
Zahnfleisch[ˈt͡saːnˌflaɪ̯ʃ]tooth-fleshgums
Zeitlupe[ˈt͡saɪ̯tˌluːpə]time-magnifying glassslow motion
Handschuhe[ˈhantˌʃuːə]hand-shoesgloves
Vorfreude[ˈfoːɐ̯ˌfʁɔɪ̯də]pre-joyanticipation
augenblicklich[ˌaʊ̯ɡn̩ˈblɪklɪç]like the blink of an eyeinstant
blickdicht[ˈblɪkˌdɪçt]sight-densenon-transparent
Pusteblume[ˈpuːstəˌbluːmə]blow-flowerdandelion
Im Schneckentempo[ɪm ˈʃnɛkn̩ˌtɛmpos]at snail paceslow
Leidenschaft[ˈlaɪ̯dn̩ʃaft]sufferingshippassion
Neugier[ˈnɔɪ̯ˌɡiːɐ̯]new-greedcuriosity
Sehnsucht[ˈzeːnˌzʊxt]crave-addictiondesire
Eifersucht[ˈaɪ̯fɐˌzʊxt]zeal-addictionjealousy
Gaumenschmaus[ˈɡaʊ̯mənˌʃmaʊ̯s]gum-feastculinary delight
Windschatten[ˈvɪntˌʃatn̩]wind’s shadowslipstream
Zuckerwatte[ˈt͡sʊkɐˌvatə]sugar-cottoncotton candy
Wackelpudding[ˈvakl̩ˌpʊdɪŋ]wobble-puddingjello
Spiegelei[ˈʃpiːɡl̩ˌʔaɪ̯]mirror-eggfried egg

Untranslatable German words

Untranslatables are words that are unique to a specific language - so unique that it can be hard to translate them. Some, like “Hinterland” and “Zeitgeist”, have made it into the English language.

Others might be new for you, so grab your vocabulary book. Sometimes you don’t realize you need a word until you know it exists.

The beautiful German word Fernweh is hard to translate into English, but it roughly means the ache to see far-flung places.

German IPALiteral meaningActual meaning
Weltschmerz[ˈvɛltˌʃmɛʁt͡s]world-painWorld weariness and suffering from the world and its inadequacy
Fernweh[ˈfɛʁnˌveː]far-soreThe ache to see far-flung places, being homesick but for somewhere far away
Hinterland[ˈhɪntɐˌlant]behind-landA rural area downstream from a city and inhabited by only a few residents
Hüftgold[ˈhʏftˌɡɔlt]hip-goldLovable extra pounds around the hips
Zeitgeist[ˈt͡saɪ̯tˌɡaɪ̯st]time-spiritThe cultural and intellectual climate of a specific era
Gassi gehen[ˈɡasi ˈɡeːən]to go “Gassi”To walk your dog
sich etwas vergegenwärtigen[zɪç ˈɛtvas fɛɐ̯ˈɡeːɡn̩ˌvɛʁtɪɡn̩],to be-present something to yourselfTo refresh a past idea in your mind
Kopfkino[ˈkɔp͡fˌkiːno]head-cinemaA fictional film that’s screening in your head if you have a very lively imagination
Luftschloss[ˈlʊftˌʃlɔs]air-castleA dream that only exists in your head
Wollmaus[ˈvɔlˌmaʊ̯s]wool-mouseA knot of dust
Staubfänger[ʃtaʊ̯pˈfɛŋɐ]dust-collectorA useless piece of art that basically only collects dust
schwarz fahren[ʃvaʁt͡s ˈfaːʁən]to ride blackTo ride without a ticket
Lampenfieber[ˈlampn̩ˌfiːbɐ]lamp-feverSevere stage fright as if the heat of the spotlights actually gave you a fever
Fingerspitzengefühl[ˈfɪŋɐʃpɪt͡sn̩ɡəˌfyːl]fingertips-feelingHaving the right combination of tact and instinct
Kummerspeck[ˈkʊmɐˌʃpɛk]grief-fatExtra weight that you gained through comfort eating while you were sad
Innerer Schweinehund[ˈɪnəʁɐ ˈʃvaɪ̯nəˌhʊnt]Inner pig-dogOne’s weak inner self that is responsible for poor decision-making
Eselsbrücke[ˈeːzl̩sˌbʁʏkə]donkey-bridgeA memory aid to help you remember something new by connecting it to something familiar
Ohrwurm[ˈoːɐ̯ˌvʊʁm]ear-wormThat song stuck in your head
fuchsteufelswild[ˌfʊkstɔɪ̯fl̩sˈvɪlt]fox-devil-wildExtremely furious
Waldeinsamkeit[ˈvaltˌʔaɪ̯nzaːmkaɪ̯t]forest solitudeA feeling of quiet serenity while being alone in the woods
Zweisamkeit[ˈt͡svaɪ̯zaːmkaɪ̯t]l-TWO-linessWhile it doesn’t work as well in English, the word takes the “one” (ein) in “lONEliness” (EINsamkeit) and replaces it with a “two” (zwei), creating a word that means togetherness or the direct opposite of loneliness.
Schadenfreude[ˈʃaːdn̩ˌfʁɔɪ̯də]harm-joyA mischievous joy at the failure or misfortune of others
Schnapsidee[ˈʃnapsʔiˌdeː]a Schnapps-ideaA crazy idea, sometimes under the influence of alcohol.
Torschlusspanik[ˈtoːɐ̯ʃlʊsˌpaːnɪk]gate-closing-panicThe feeling that time is running out, especially for opportunities in terms of one’s career, marriage or having children.
verschlimmbessern[fɛɐ̯ˈʃlɪmˌbɛsɐn]to worsenbetterTo accidentally make something worse while trying to improve it.

The longest German words

People love making fun of how ridiculously long German words can be. You’ll read something like “Sozialversicherungsfachangestelltenauszubildender” and think we’ve lost our minds.

And I would absolutely agree with you if that word meant something like “table” or “in” but the truth is, most of those words are simply compound nouns.

So the longest German words are technically a whole bunch of words.

That particular one means “social security technical employee trainee”. (Yes, that sounds like a very German job position. After all, the only thing longer than our nouns are our bureaucratic ways.)

If you break the word apart, though, it’s not that crazy anymore. We just like to glue words together, as you can see with these other extra long German words.

GermanIPA English
Schornsteinfeger[ˈʃɔʁnʃtaɪ̯nˌfeːɡɐ]chimney sweeper
Erdbeermarmeladenglas[ˈeːɐ̯tbeːɐ̯maʁməˌlaːdənɡlaːs]strawberry jam jar
Unabhängigkeitserklärung[ˈʊnʔaphɛŋɪçkaɪ̯t͡sʔɛɐ̯ˌklɛːʁʊŋ]declaration of independence
Rechtsschutzversicherung[ˈʁɛçt͡sʃʊt͡sfɛɐ̯ˌzɪçəʁʊŋ]legal expenses insurance
Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit[ˈnaːʁʊŋsˌmɪtl̩ˈʊnfɛɐ̯ˌtʁɛːklɪçkaɪ̯t]food intolerance
Stra­ßen­ver­kehrszu­las­sungsord­nung[ˈʃtʁaːsn̩fɛɐ̯keːɐ̯sˈt͡suːlasʊŋsˌʔɔʁdnʊŋ]traffic licensing regulations
Aufmerksamkeitsdefizit-Hyperaktivitätsstörung[ˈaʊ̯fˌmɛʁkzaːmkaɪ̯tsˈdeːfit͡sɪt-ˌhypɐʔaktiviˈtɛːtsˈʃtøːʁʊŋ]attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Neunhundertneunundneunzigtausendneunhundertneunundneunzig[ˈnɔɪ̯nˌhʊndɐt ˈnɔɪ̯nʔʊntˈnɔɪ̯nt͡sɪç ˈtaʊ̯zn̩t ˈnɔɪ̯nˌhʊndɐt ˈnɔɪ̯nʔʊntˈnɔɪ̯nt͡sɪç]nine hundred ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine

Language learning is a treasure hunt

So we found some soft and nice sounding German words for you, but to be honest, they’re the exceptions. More often than not, German words are quite the “ Zungenbrecher” ( tongue twisters).

They can be spiky and long but somehow that’s part of their beauty. It’s what makes them so precise and rich in meaning. There’s a reason why the German word for vocabulary is “Wortschatz”, which means “word treasure”.

The vocabulary of a language truly is like a treasure box full of unique words - and learning a new language is like going on a treasure hunt and collecting them all. Some words simply sound pretty, some have wonderfully weird meanings and others are 57 letters long, but all of them are true gems.

If you love language and want to explore some more magically, unique German words, check out these 10 untranslatable unique German words that don't exist in English.

Otherwise, keep adding to your treasure trove of words via our free German vocabulary blog.

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