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German Loan Words in English

A Survey of German Words Used in English

Introduction: Deutsch im Englischen

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English has borrowed many words from German. Some of those words have become a natural part of everyday English vocabulary (angst, kindergarten, sauerkraut), while others are primarily intellectual, literary, scientific (Waldsterben, Weltanschauung, Zeitgeist), or used in special areas, such as gestalt in psychology, or aufeis and loess in geology. Some of these German words are used in English because there is no true English equivalent: gemütlich, schadenfreude. Words in the list below marked with * were used in various rounds of recent Scripps National Spelling Bees in the U.S.

Also see:
  The National Spelling Bee and German
  The Denglisch Dictionary - English words used in German
  Porsche and Other German Words in English (with audio)

Here's an A-to-Z sample of German loan words in English:

German Words in English
A-F | G-L | M-Z
ENGLISH DEUTSCH MEANING
alpenglow s Alpenglühen a reddish glow seen on the mountain tops around sunrise or sunset
Alzheimer's disease e Alzheimer Krankheit brain disease named for the German neurologist Alois Alzheimer (1864-1915), who first identified it in 1906
angst/Angst e Angst "fear" - in English, a neurotic feeling of anxiety and depression
Anschluss r Anschluss "annexation" - specifically, the 1938 annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany (the Anschluss)
apple strudel r Apfelstrudel a type of pastry made with thin layers of dough, rolled up with a fruit filling; from the German for "swirl" or "whirlpool"
aspirin s Aspirin Aspirin (acetylsalicyclic acid) was invented by the German chemist Felix Hoffmann working for Bayer AG in 1899. > More
aufeis s Aufeis Literally, "on-ice" or "ice on top" (Arctic geology). German citation: "Venzke, J.-F. (1988): Beobachtungen zum Aufeis-Phänomen im subarktisch-ozeanischen Island. - Geoökodynamik 9 (1/2), S. 207-220; Bensheim."
autobahn e Autobahn "freeway" - The German Autobahn has almost mythical status. See Hitler and the Autobahn for more.
automat r Automat a (New York City) restaurant that dispenses food from coin-operated compartments
Bildungsroman*
pl. Bildungeromane
r Bildungsroman
Bildungsromane
pl.
"formation novel" - a novel that focuses on the maturation of, and the intellectual, psychological, or spiritual development of the main character
blitz r Blitz "lightning" - a sudden, overwhelming attack; a charge in football; the Nazi attack on England in WWII (see below)
blitzkrieg r Blitzkrieg "lightning war" - a rapid-strike war; Hitler's attack on England in WWII
bratwurst e Bratwurst grilled or fried sausage made of spiced pork or veal
cobalt s Kobalt cobalt, Co; see Chemical Elements
coffee klatsch (klatch)
Kaffeeklatsch
r Kaffeeklatsch a friendly get-together over coffee and cake
concertmaster
concertmeister
r Konzertmeister the leader of the first violin section of an orchestra, who often also serves as assistant conductor
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
CJD
e Creutzfeldt-Jakob-
Krankheit
"mad cow disease" or BSE is a variant of CJD, a brain disease named for the German neurologists Hans Gerhardt Creutzfeldt (1883-1964) and Alfons Maria Jakob (1884-1931)
  Also see: The Denglisch Dictionary - English words used in German
dachshund r Dachshund dachshund, a dog (der Hund) originally trained to hunt badger (der Dachs); the "wiener dog" nickname comes from its hot-dog shape (see "wiener")
degauss
also: gauss
s Gauß to demagnetize, neutralize a magnetic field; the "gauss" is a unit of measurement of magnetic induction (symbol G or Gs, replaced by the Tesla), named for German mathematician and astronomer Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855).
deli
delicatessen
s Delikatessen prepared cooked meats, relishes, cheeses, etc.; a shop selling such foods
diesel r Dieselmotor The diesel engine is named for its German inventor, Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913).
dirndl s Dirndl
s Dirndlkleid
Dirndl is a southern German dialect word for "girl." A dirndl (DIRN-del) is a traditional woman's dress still worn in Bavaria and Austria. More > Clothing Glossary
Doberman pinscher
Dobermann
F.L. Dobermann
r Pinscher
dog breed named for the German Friedrich Louis Dobermann (1834-1894); the Pinscher breed has several variations, including the Dobermann, although technically the Dobermann is not a true pinscher
doppelgänger
doppelganger
r Doppelgänger "double goer" - a ghostly double, look-alike, or clone of a person
Doppler effect
Doppler radar
C.J. Doppler
(1803-1853)
apparent change in the frequency of light or sound waves, caused by rapid movement; named for the Austrian physicist who discovered the effect
dreck
drek
r Dreck "dirt, filth" - in English, trash, rubbish (from Yiddish/German)
edelweiss* s Edelweiß
Song Lyrics
a small flowering Alpine plant (Leontopodium alpinum), literally "noble white"
ersatz* r Ersatz a replacement or substitute, usually implying inferiority to the original, such as "ersatz coffee"
Fahrenheit D.G. Fahrenheit The Fahrenheit temperature scale is named for its German inventor, Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit (1686-1736), who invented the alcohol thermometer in 1709.
Fahrvergnügen s Fahrvergnügen "driving pleasure" - word made famous by a VW ad campaign
fest s Fest "celebration" - as in "film fest" or "beer fest"
flak/flack die Flak
das Flakfeuer
"anti-aircraft gun" (FLiegerAbwehrKanone) - used in English more like das Flakfeuer (flak fire) for heavy criticism ("He's taking a lot of flak.")
frankfurter Frankfurter Wurst hot dog, orig. a type of German sausage (Wurst) from Frankfurt; see "wiener"
Führer r Führer "leader, guide" - a term that still has Hitler/Nazi connections in English, more than 70 years after it first came into use
*Words used in various rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee held annually in Washington, D.C.

NEXT > Part 2: G-L

GERMAN LOAN WORDS in ENGLISH
A-F | G-L | M-Z

WORT des TAGES > German Word of the Day

MORE > The National Spelling Bee and German
MORE > The Denglisch Dictionary - English words used in German
MORE > Porsche and Other German Words in English (with audio)

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MORE > French Loan Words in German
MORE > English-German Cognates

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