Finding that right word

You’ve been there, struggling to find that right word to describe something.

In addition to meaning, words have emotion. And that emotion can be elevated depending on which word (or words) you choose.

For example: ‘I enjoy being alone’ vs. ‘I enjoy solitude’.

Or: ‘This crème brûlée is tasty!’ vs. ‘This crème brûlée is decadent!’

When it comes to choosing words, sometimes the better choice is in a different language.

Augenblick please

That’s right. Germans created some incredibly awesome words.

These clever folks are known to string nouns together to create a single word, and really long words such as:


(Trying to say that, really fast, three times!) The word means: “the law for the delegation of monitoring beef labeling” but is now obsolete. Don’t worry, there are many more German mouthful words to learn – here’s eight to impress your friends.

But when you break them down by noun, most German words make total sense.

Take Augenblick for example: Augen (eyes), blick (look) – the eyes are taking a look, otherwise known in English as ‘a moment’. 

Augenblick sounds much nicer, doesn’t it?

Don’t have Angst

Many English words are German. You may know more German than you think!

Like angst (which you should try to avoid), and Gesundheit! you say when someone sneezes. But there’s also kindergarten, kaput, dachshund, bagel, edelweiss, seltzer and Zeppelin (yeah, like Led Zeppelin). See if you recognize more in this list.

In my opinion, more should be added. Such as one of the first German words I learned after moving to Germany: Feierabend.

I heard it all the time – while shopping in the grocery store, conversations between parents and children, a closing greeting between two people on the sidewalk.

Broken down in English, Feier means celebrate and Abend evening – time to celebrate the evening. So, when someone is leaving the office, you’ll hear: ‘Schönen Feierabend!’ In English, you might wish someone a nice evening, or just good-bye as they’re walking out the door. But that doesn’t carry the same emotion.

And what’s fantastic too about Feierabend is that it applies to everyone, and at anytime during the day – it’s signalling time that’s just for you.

When we finish our obligations each day and it’s time for ourselves, we should celebrate it – every day. Don’t you think?

No other word like Gemütlichkeit

There are more great German words filled with emotion.

Like Guten Appetit! Which means Good appetite!

In English, we say: ‘Enjoy your meal!ֹ’ or ‘Let’s eat!’ which sounds boring. Even the French have a nice way of beginning their meal with: Bon Appetit! (especially when you hear Julia Child say it in your head).

Other awesome German words like Fernweh (distance pain – wanting to be somewhere else), Kopfkino (head movie – playing something over and over in your mind), and this one I discovered in this list of cool German words: Hüftgold known as love handles in English. But literally translated, Hüftgold is hip gold. Smile and shout Hüftgold! next time you stand in front of the mirror!

Truth be told: the German word like no other is Gemütlichkeit.

It’s just not possible to translate this into a single English word. Gemütlichkeit sums up a combination of ideal emotions, senses and surroundings.

Like, being snuggled up in a warm blanket, sipping a warm beverage and nibbling shortbread cookies fresh from the oven, while reading a book in a candle-lit room – the snow is falling gently outside, and Bon Jovi’s Hallelujah is playing in the background.

That’s Gemütlichkeit. Try describing that scenario with one English word!

But wait

There is one word in German that really ought to change.

In English, it’s butterfly. In French, papillon. In German, it’s…


If you’ve never heard it, listen to the word online. It sounds like someone being scolded.

That’s OK. There are so many other great German words that we can forgive the person that named the butterfly. After all, they gave us Feierabend and Gemütlichkeit.

Which perfect words do you wish were in your native language?


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