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German Loanwords

Enjoy our list of words borrowed from the German language. Loanwords are integrated words from a foreign language with orthography adapted for the receiving language. For more examples see German Loanwords (Wikipedia), German Loanwords (About.com) and GermanEnglishWords.com.

Abseiling

n. process of descending on a fixed rope, act of descending a mountain face by sliding down a rope which is fastened to an overhead projection (Mountain Climbing)
v. rappel, descend a mountain face by sliding down a rope which is fastened to an overhead projection (Mountain Climbing)
Source: Babylon English English Dictionary

Alphorn

The alphorn or alpenhorn is a wind instrument, consisting of a natural wooden horn of conical bore, having a cup-shaped mouthpiece, used by mountain dwellers in Switzerland and elsewhere.

Angst

n. anxiety, apprehension, insecurity, strong feeling of anxiety or apprehension
Source: Babylon English English Dictionary

Bauhaus

n. major school of modern architectural design developed in Germany in 1919 which emphasized simplicity and functionality (was forced to close down by the Nazis in 1933)

Blitz

v. attack swiftly and suddenly, violently attack, rapidly bombard
n. bombardment, swift massive offensive, onslaught

Carabiner

n. karabiner, oblong metal ring used in mountain and rock climbing

Dachshund

small long-bodied short-legged German breed of dog having a short sleek coat and long drooping ears; suited for following game into burrows
(synonym) dachsie, badger dog
(hypernym) hunting dog
(hyponym) sausage dog, sausage hound

Doppelgänger

(German) Double-goer; usually, a species of real phantom, seen before, after, or at the time of the death of an individual, and serving as a notification or warning of the death. In some cases the double seen is that of the seer himself, though this is not the true doppelgänger. The doppelganger is most often the mayavi-rupa which can be seen at even immense distances from the individual whose presentation it is, yet the term doppelganger can likewise incorrectly be applied to the very occasional projections of the astral body which, however, can at no time wander far from its physical frame. The true doppelganger or mayavi-rupa, whether seen or unseen, falls into two classes, without counting the rare cases involving the linga-sarira mentioned above: the mayavi-rupa projected by hpho-wa, by will and with the consciousness of the ego; and the occasional automatic or involuntary projections of the mayavi-rupa due to intense concentration of the mind upon something or someone.

Ersatz

Ersatz is a German word literally meaning substitute or replacement. Although it is used as an adjective in English, Ersatz can function in German only as a noun on its own, or as a part in compound nouns such as Ersatzteile (spare parts) or Ersatzspieler (substitute player). While the English term often implies that the substitution is of unsatisfactory or inferior quality, this connotation does not necessarily exist in the German context. For example, "Ersatzbutter" or "Butter-Ersatz" could be used as a generic term for margarine as a substitute for butter.

Frankfurter

n. a smooth-textured sausage of minced beef or pork usually smoked; often served on a bread roll
(synonym) frank, hotdog, hot dog, dog, wiener, wienerwurst, weenie
(hypernym) sausage
(hyponym) Vienna sausage
(part-holonym) hotdog, hot dog, red hot

Gesamtkunstwerk

Gesamtkunstwerk ("total," "integrated," or "complete artwork") is a German term attributed to the German opera composer Richard Wagner which refers to an operatic performance encompassing music, theater, and the visual arts. Wagner felt that in ancient Greek tragedy, these had been fused, but at some point they drifted apart — he was critical of the opera of his time which he felt emphasized the music too heavily and did not contain quality drama.

Glockenspiel

a percussion instrument consisting of a set of graduated metal bars mounted on a frame and played with small hammers
(synonym) orchestral bells
(hypernym) percussion instrument, percussive instrument

Hamburger

n. beefburger, patty of ground beef served on a roll

Hamster

A small European rodent (Cricetus frumentarius). It is remarkable for having a pouch on each side of the jaw, under the skin, and for its migrations.

Kindergarten

A school for young children, conducted on the theory that education should be begun by gratifying and cultivating the normal aptitude for exercise, play, observation, imitation, and construction; -- a name given by Friedrich Froebel, a German educator, who introduced this method of training, in rooms opening on a garden.

Kitsch

n. art or artwork which is sentimental and in poor taste; tacky condition

Lederhosen

n. leather shorts often worn with suspenders; worn especially by men and boys in Bavaria
(hypernym) short pants, shorts, trunks

Leitmotiv

A leitmotif (also leitmotiv; lit. "leading motif") is a recurring musical theme, associated within a particular piece of music with a particular person, place, or idea. The word has also been used by extension to mean any sort of recurring theme, whether in music, literature, or the life of a fictional character or a real person.

Meerschaum

n. A fine white claylike mineral, soft, and light enough when in dry masses to float in water. It is a hydrous silicate of magnesia, and is obtained chiefly in Asia Minor. It is manufacturd into tobacco pipes, cigar holders, etc. Also called sepiolite.

n. A tobacco pipe made of this mineral.

Muesli

Muesli (originally Birchermüesli or Müesli ['myə̯sli] in Swiss German, Müsli in standard German) is a popular breakfast dish (breakfast cereal) based on uncooked rolled oats and fruit. In Switzerland, it is also eaten as a light evening dish; there Birchermüesli complet is muesli with butterbrot and milk coffee.

Nickel

Nickel is a metallic chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol Ni and atomic number 28.

Oberland

Oberland is German for "highlands".

Poltergeist

(from German poltern, meaning to rumble or make noise, and Geist, meaning "ghost", "spirit", or "embodiment") denotes a spirit or ghost that manifests itself by moving and influencing objects.

Pumpernickel

Pumpernickel is a type of German sourdough bread traditionally made with rye meal (a coarsely ground form of the rye flour). It is now often made with a combination of rye flour and whole rye berries. It has been long associated with the Westphalia region of Germany. The first written mention of the black bread of Westphalia was in 1450. While we do not know whether this, and other early references, refer to precisely the bread that came to be known as pumpernickel, there has long been something different about Westphalian rye bread that elicited comment. The defining characteristics of Westphalian pumpernickel are coarse rye flour—rye meal—and an exceedingly long baking period. The long slow baking is what gives pumpernickel its characteristic dark color. The bread can emerge from the oven deep brown, even black.

Quartz

n. A form of silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), occurring in hexagonal crystals, which are commonly colorless and transparent, but sometimes also yellow, brown, purple, green, and of other colors; also in cryptocrystalline massive forms varying in color and degree of transparency, being sometimes opaque.

Rucksack

n. backpack, knapsack, type of bag carried on one's back

Sauerkraut

n. Cabbage cut fine and allowed to ferment in a brine made of its own juice with salt, -- a German dish.

Schnapps

Schnapps is a type of distilled beverage. The word schnapps is derived from the German word.
There are two different types of schnapps: German Schnapps (both a generic term for liquor, and specifically German fruit brandy), and American Schnapps (sweet liqueur, often fruit-flavored).

Thaler

The Thaler (or Taler) was a silver coin used throughout Europe for almost four hundred years. Its name lives on in various currencies as the dollar or tolar. Etymologically, "Thaler" is an abbreviation of "Joachimsthaler", a coin type from the city of Joachimsthal in Bohemia, where some of the first such coins were minted in 1518.

U-boot

U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot (undersea boat), and refers to military submarines operated by Germany in World War I and World War II. Although in theory U-boats could have been useful fleet weapons against enemy naval warships, in practice they were most effectively used in an economic-warfare role, enforcing a naval blockade against enemy shipping. The primary targets of the U-boat campaigns in both wars were the merchant convoys bringing supplies from Canada and the United States to Europe. Austrian submarines of World War I were also known as "U-boats".

Urtext

An urtext edition of a work of classical music is a printed version intended to reproduce the original intention of the composer as exactly as possible, without any added or changed material. Other kinds of editions distinct from urtext are facsimile and interpretive editions, discussed below.
The word "urtext" is of German origin; "ur-" means "original". Occasionally the word "urtext" is capitalized, following German spelling practice.

Vermouth

Vermouth is a wine flavored with aromatic herbs and spices ("aromatized" in the trade) using closely-guarded recipes (trade secrets). Some vermouth is sweetened; unsweetened, or dry, vermouth tends to be bitter. The person credited with the first vermouth recipe, Antonio Benedetto Carpano from Turin, Italy, chose to name his concoction "vermouth" in 1786 because he was inspired by a German wine flavored with wormwood, an herb most famously used in distilling absinthe. The modern German word Wermut (Wermuth in the spelling of Carpano's time) means both wormwood and vermouth. The herbs were originally used to mask raw flavors of cheap wine, imparting a slightly medicinal "tonic" flavor.

Weltanschauung

A world view (or worldview) is a term calqued from the German word Weltanschauung Welt is the German word for 'world,' and Anschauung is the German word for 'view' or 'outlook'. It implies a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs through which an individual interprets the world and interacts in it. The German word is also in wide use in English, as well as the translated form world outlook. (Compare with ideology).

Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener schnitzel (German, meaning Viennese ) is a traditional Viennese dish, consisting of a thin slice of veal coated in breadcrumbs and fried. Possibly originating in Milan, Northern Italy (as cotoletta alla milanese), the recipe may have appeared in Vienna during the 15th or 16th century. According to another theory, it was introduced by Field Marshal Radetzky (who spent much of his life in Milan) in 1857. The term "Wiener schnitzel" itself dates to at least 1862 (while the Austrian ruled Milan right since the end of the Napoleonic age).

Zeitgeist

Zeitgeist is originally a German expression that means "the spirit of the age", literally translated as "time (Zeit) spirit (Geist)". It describes the intellectual and cultural climate of an era. In German, the word has more layers of meaning than the English translation, including the fact that Zeitgeist can only be observed for past events.

Zeppelin

n. dirigible airship of German design
n. family name; Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838-1917), German army officer, developer of the first rigid airship in 1900