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Using the Telephone in German

An Annotated English-German Glossary

German Telephone Vocabulary

Am Telefon > Glossary A-K > Glossary L-Z

Noun genders indicated by: r (der, masc.), e (die, fem.), s (das, neu.)

Abbreviations: adj. (adjective), Br. (British), n. (noun), pl. (plural), v. (verb)

Related vocabulary: Computer and Internet Glossary

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German coin phone - Copyright H. Flippo
A German coin phone.
Some German public
phones only accept a
telephone card, not coins.

Foto: Hyde Flippo


address book s Adressbuch

answer (the phone) v. (den Hörer) abheben/abnehmen, sich melden
   There was no answer.  Keiner/Niemand hat sich gemeldet.

answering machine, answerphone (Br.)  r Anrufbeantworter

area code, dialing code  e Vorwahl, e Vorwahlnummer

See the comments below ("Null" column) for more about when and when not to dial the zero in front of a German area code.

battery (rechargeable)  r Akku (in wireless phones)

battery charger  s Ladegerät (-e)

busy adj.  besetzt
   The line is busy.  Die Leitung ist besetzt.


call n.  r Anruf, s Gespräch
  domestic call  s Inlandsgespräch
  international call  s Auslandsgespräch
  local call  s Ortsgespräch
call v.  anrufen, telefonieren
call forwarding  e Rufumleitung

cell (cellular) phone, mobile phone  s Handy, s Mobiltelefon

Some say that the German word "das Handy" comes from "handgehaltenes Telefon" or "hand-held telephone." But see the Denglisch Dictionary - 'Handy' entry for another version.

WEB > Will a U.S. Cell Phone Work in Germany? (The German Way and More)

   See PHOTO of a wireless phone (with vocabulary)

charge (battery)  (den Akku) laden
   charge time  e Ladezeit

charge(s), fee(s), toll  e Gebühr(en)
   minimum charge/fee  e Mindestgebühr
   toll-free  gebührenfrei, zum Nulltarif

coin(s)  e Münze (-n)
   Insert coins.  Münzen einwerfen/einstecken.

collect call  s R-Gespräch, s Rück-Gespräch

connect  verbinden

connection  e Verbindung, r Anschluss
   a good/bad connection  eine gute/schlechte Verbindung

cord  e (elektrische) Schnur

cordless phone  das schnurlose Telefon


When dialing a German number from North America, be sure to leave out the initial zero in front of the Vorwahlnummer in a German telephone number. For example, a Berlin number listed on a letterhead or business card as 030 70 12 34 would be dialed as (011 49) 30 70 12 34 from the US. The 49 is the country code for Germany and the 30 is the area code for Berlin.

Note: Unlike a standard seven-digit US phone number (+ area code), German phone numbers may have between four and eight digits. The traditional listing of German phone numbers in pairs (12 34 56 7) has in recent years given way to other formats, such as 123 4567.


date (calendar)  s Datum

Deutsche Telekom AG  Germany's former phone monopoly, now a privatized stock company (AG = Aktiengesellschaft)

delete (entry/number)  (einen Eintrag/eine Nummer) löschen

dial (a number)  (eine Nummer) wählen
  redial v.  wiederwählen
  redial (function)  e Wahlwiederholung
  redial list (menu)  e Wiederwahl-Liste

dial a/the wrong number  eine/die falsche Nummer wählen
   Sorry, wrong number. Tut mir leid, falsch verbunden.

dial (on phone) n.  e Tastatur (buttons, keys), e Wählscheibe (dial phone)

dial direct  direkt wählen, durchwählen

dial tone  s Amtszeichen, s Freizeichen

dialing code/prefix  e Vorwahl, e Vorwahlnummer

digit  e Ziffer

domestic call  s Inlandsgespräch
  international call  s Auslandsgespräch, s internationale Gespräch


email/e-mail n.  e E-Mail
   to check one's email  die E-Mail abrufen
   to send an email message  eine E-Mail senden/schicken

Das E-Mail? Some Germans will tell you that email in German is das rather than die. But since the English word stands for die E-Post or die E-Post-Nachricht, it's difficult to justify das. Dictionaries say it's die (feminine). (Das Email means "enamel.")

   See our Computer Glossary for more about email.

emergency call  r Notruf
emergency number  e Notrufnummer (112)

Notruf | SOS: Americans and Canadians used to the 911 emergency phone number need to know that is not the case in most other countries. In Europe (the EU) the unified emergency number is 112. Dial 112 for any emergency in a European country, including the German-speaking countries. Some mobile phones (Handys) have an "SOS" menu feature that will dial 112 with one touch, and the GSM (European) cell phone standard uses 112 worldwide. Note: The emergency number in the U.K. is 999, but 112 also works. Germany continues to use 110 for police calls, but 112 also works. See Emergency telephone numbers and EENA.org for more.

end a call  einen Anruf beenden

enter key, select key  e Eingabetaste
   See PHOTO of cell phone key pad

entering text  e Texteingabe


fax v.  faxen

fax (facsimile) n.  s Fax, s Telefax

fax machine  s Faxgerät

You can send a fax from most larger German post offices. You pay for each page sent and any phone charges.

fee(s), charge(s), toll  e Gebühr(en)
   minimum fee/charge  e Mindestgebühr


Good-bye! (on phone)  Auf Wiederhören!, Wiederhören!, Tschüs! (familiar)

Note: It makes no sense to say "Auf Wiedersehen" (lit., "see you again") on the phone, since you haven't seen the person you're talking to in the first place. Perhaps if/when video phones become more common?
Note: Also see the article Am Telefon.

GSM  Global System for Mobile communications

GSM is a digital mobile phone system used in Germany and most of Europe. Germany has four main competing digital phone standards: D1, D2, E2, and e-plus - all variations of GSM, and none of them compatible with US wireless systems. T-Mobile, AT&T, and some other US wireless firms do use GSM but on a different band than in Europe. Solution? A multi-band cell phone that works in the US and Europe.

   See PHOTO of a GSM multi-band wireless phone


handset, receiver   r Hörer

hang up (phone/receiver)  (den Hörer) auflegen
  end a call  einen Anruf beenden

headset   r Kopfhörer

Hello! (on phone)  Person answering says his/her last name ("Schmidt." oder "Hier Schmidt."
   This is Mr. Braun. (on phone)  Hier ist/spricht Herr Braun.

Note: For a business, the response is the name of the firm. - There is a trend in Germany, especially among young people, to answer the phone with "Hallo!"

hold v.  warten
  be on hold  (am Apparat) warten, in der Warteschleife sein
  I've been on hold for five minutes.  Ich warte schon (seit) fünf Minuten.
  on hold  in der Warteschleife
  Please hold!  Bitte bleiben Sie am Apparat!


information  e Auskunft, e Telefonauskunft

Internet  s Internet, s Netz
   See our Computer and Internet Glossary!


key (on phone) n.  e Taste (-n)
   "Please press the pound key." = Bitte drücken Sie die Rautetaste.

keyboard, key pad  e Tastatur (buttons, keys)
   See PHOTO of cell phone key pad

key lock  e Tastensperre (cell phone)


PHOTOS > Telephone Photo Gallery

Related Pages

Am Telefon
Our feature on telephone vocabulary, plus tips.

Computer Glossary
An English-German glossary of computer and Internet terms.

Das Handy - The German Way
The cell phone page at The German Way site offers information, pictures, and links concerning the use of a cell phone in Europe.

Telephone Tips - The German Way
The telephone page at The German Way offers more information, links, and help.

Online Dictionaries
Information and links for dictionaries and glossaries.

A list of all the English-German glossaries on this site, from your Guide.

Online Translation
Information and links for translation.

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