Funny German Translations of Weird German Words in English

Some words lose their humour when translated into another language and don’t sound funny enough to evoke the kind of boisterous laughter one had intended for it. However, there are German words that are funny at their core and retain their intrinsic humour even when translated into English. The funniness of those words isn’t lost in translation. On the contrary, their literal translations are funnier in English.

What’s incredibly fascinating about the German language is that it’s abundant in funny words. For non-German speakers, including myself, German vocabulary is full of quirky but logical expressions. And they can be your valuable resource if you want to give vent to your funny self!

So, even if you find the German language hard to learn, at least adding a few funny German words to your vocabulary may help you crack a joke or two with your German friends! That being said, it’s time that you brace up for the challenge and learn a few of these funny words and phrases in German. 

So, let’s see if the literal translation of German words into English makes you laugh or not. Without further ado, here’s a tranche of funny German words with hilarious literal translations …

funnny German translations

1. Donnerbalken

Literal Translation – “Thunder beam.”

Explanation – Does it sound like a silly German word? I must say, it isn’t. If you’ve ever been to the military, you may be familiar with the arrangement made for the militia to attend to nature’s call. It’s a community latrine or toilet of sorts. You may ask why “thunder beam”? The beam is the seat-bar like structure, while thunder is the sound you can guess. 

2. Wildpinkler


Literal Translation – “Wild pee-er.”

Explanation – Anyone liking to relieve outside may find Wildpinkler hilarious. One of the fun words in German, Wildpinkler describes persons who pee outdoors in the wild, not toilet. While it’s not the habit we encourage, it’s the case anyway, and anyone doing it is the wild pee-er.

3. Handschuhe


Literal Translation – “Handshoe.”

Explanation – Handschuhe is one of the funniest German words. Anything you can put your hands in is a Handschuhe. Why shoe? Shoe because it dresses the feet, so do other things we sneak our hands in.

4. Eselsbrücke


Literal Translation – “Donkey’s bridge.”

Explanation – This word has to do with shortcuts, remembering or making something stick to the memory. Though its equivalent in English is mnemonic, which is a sort of “mental device used to remember something”, “donkey bridge” is more descriptive and refers to creating a donkey-bridge around something hard to remember.

5. Stinktier


Literal Translation – “Stink animal.”

Explanation – Germans have exciting, straightforward names for animals, not boring ones. They come up with hilarious German words to name animals. It’s creativity at its best to name the animal Stinktier that squirts out a liquid, which smells stinky.

6. Zungenbrecher

Literal Translation – “Tongue-breaker.”

Explanation – Der Zungenbrecher isn’t a “tongue twister”, it’s a “tongue breaker” instead. Though one of the funny-sounding German words, this translated German word is more than that. It’s about words that aren’t easy to utter. Even if you tried, you may not say such words correctly. That truly is a tongue breaker!

7. Drahtesel


Literal Translation – “Wire-donkey.”

Explanation – If wire-donkey you seek, wire-donkey isn’t what you’d get. You get a rusty bike instead that’s very old. That’s a funny German word to say, isn’t it? Drahtesel is a compound word made up of “Draht” and “Esel”, which mean “wire” and “donkey” respectively.

8. Wasserhahn


Literal Translation – “Water-rooster.”

Explanation – One of the German words in the English translation that sounds unusual. Lest it gives you the impression that it’s some sort of a rooster, it’s not. Instead, what you’re referring to is a water tap.

9. Scheinwerfer


Literal Translation – “Shine-thrower.”

Explanation – When you say “Scheinwerfer”, it doesn’t in any way mean someone throws shine. Instead, it’s a German word for headlights. So don’t get confused with its literal translation. This is how German words sound in English translation.

10. Schattenparker


Literal Translation – “Shadow parker.”

Explanation – This cute-sounding German word has derogatory undertones. And calls out men accused of unmanly behaviour. So what this shadow parker describes men who, in order to prevent car interior from heating up, park their car in the shadow. You might wonder what’s unmanly in parking a car in the shade? Avoiding the scorching sun is seen as behaviour unbecoming of brave men and has a dismissive connotation as you’re seen as coward or weak.

11. Sitzfleisch


Literal Translation – “Sit or seat meat.”

Explanation – It sounds like meat placed under buttocks! However, it isn’t! Sitzfleisch describes a person who can endure any weathering situation because they’ve got seat meat in plenty. So, simply put, buttocks are described as the sort of cushions one carries around everywhere one goes.

12. Lebensmüde


Literal Translation – “Life tired.”

Explanation – “Life tired” is a weird translation of Lebensmüde. This word does explain exactly that. When one feels beaten down as if you’re done with life and can’t seem to look forward to things less gloomy, this word comes in handy to give voice to how and what you’re feeling. It denotes restlessness, a sense of dissatisfaction with life, and depression. However, Lebensmüde may also mean overcoming the monotony of life by breaking away from mundane and redundant happenings of day-to-day life by going hiking somewhere or on an adventure trip.

13. Fremdschämen


Literal Translation – “Exterior shame.”

Explanation – This is a special German describing the sorry state of someone who feels bad for others’ foolish behaviour. Such people, when they see people making fools of themselves, they become restless because of the pain they find themselves in. For to go through the state of Fremdschämen, you need to have loads of empathy.

14. Schnapsidee


Literal Translation – “Booze idea.”

Explanation – When someone offers a “booze idea” it means the idea proposed is not just stupid and unwise but pointless as well. And one expects such ideas from someone who’s intoxicated or drunk. If such ideas come your way, you can ignore them as Schnapsidee.

15. Weichei


Literal Translation – “Soft egg.”

Explanation – This is yet another German word for coward or not so daring person. And also describes a weak-minded person who doesn’t have the guts to stand for what’s right, they instead prefer ignoring and going with the flow.

funny german words

15 Weird German Words in English

Funny German Word Literal Translation
Erklärungsnot Explanation poverty
Purzelbaum Tumble tree
Kuddelmuddel Muddled mess
Luftschloss Air castle
Kopfkino Head cinema
Speisekarte Dish card
Stubentiger Room tiger
Feuchtfröhlich Wet and happy
Spaßvogel Fun bird
Glühbirne Light pear
Hexenschuss Witches shot
Versuchskaninchen Attempt rabbits
Warteschlange Wait snake
Klobrille Toilet glasses 
Nashorn Nose horn


I hope you enjoyed this post about 30 German words with funny literal translations. If you’ve got other words to add to the list, please feel free to write in the comments. I will make sure to add them ASAP. Also, do share the post on your social profiles so that others interested in German words can find it. 

Did you find these words and their translation funny? What other German words can you add?

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