German Loanwords in English

English has borrowed many words from German. Some of those words have become a natural part of everyday English vocabulary (German Courses)

Words With No English Equivalent

Some of these German words are used in English because there is no true English equivalent: gemütlich, schadenfreude.

Think of these ‘loanwords’ as tiny pieces of German culture and language that have made their way into the English language. Little cultural artifacts, if you will, that you’ll find in the way English speakers describe their food and philosophy.


The German and American meanings of kindergarten don’t completely align. Kindergarten in American English refers to preschool, while, in German, the term refers to daycare for children aged three to six.


The original meaning of the German phrase die Angst translates to fear – the sort of irrational reaction that might make you shriek if you see a spider, or dread the next parent-teacher conference.


Blitz in English – apart from its association with food blenders – unfortunately has some of the same ‘world war’ connotations that originate from the German.


Dachshunds – you know, those beautiful and sometimes silly-looking sausage dogs word that make do cause.


The German language can be very descriptive, as Geman words are often a combination of two or more words.


Short and simple: kaputt in German (German Courses) means broken.


‘Ruck’ derives from rücken (back), and sack has the same meaning as sack in English – so together, rucksack basically just means a sack we carry on the back.


In German, “Schnaps” could technically refer to any shot of liquor.


“Wanderlust” is the word you’re after to express that kind of longing.


“Zeitgeist” is made up of Zeit (time) and geist (spirit) and describes the ideas and beliefs of an era.

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