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Top 10 German words in English

The Local · 12 Oct 2012, 15:48

Published: 12 Oct 2012 15:48 GMT+02:00

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We all know about "Handys" and "Drinks" and "Outsourcing." English words that have entered the German language are either exhaustingly decadent or mind-numbingly capitalistic.

But German words that have been appropriated by the English tongue, on the other hand, are both diverse and seriously interesting.

Check out the top 10 German words in English here!

Many - like "shlep" - were absorbed into Anglo slang by way of Yiddish, while others - like "Ersatz" - crossed the English Channel during the Second World War, only to become mainly obsolete.

But others have taken their place, migrating like birds in the past few decades to be nurtured to rude health by young British kids everywhere.

Story continues below…

So check out our latest Local List here, and marvel at the protean nature of your mother tongue(s).

Jacinta Nandi and Ben Knight

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:04 October 12, 2012 by lucksi
I have never heard an English person using the word "handy" for a cell phone.
17:12 October 12, 2012 by pjnt
Yup, handy is not the same, I use mobile or cell.

And of the list, 1,2,5 & 9 I have never heard. Where is kindergarten?
17:28 October 12, 2012 by franconia
@lucksi That was not the question or answer !
19:32 October 12, 2012 by Englishted
I would say most of the words in your list came to England via the U.S.A. but not rucksack .I could not understand your explanation either ,backpack is pure American.

I can say I have only hear maximum of three of these words used to any degree in England.

But it was interesting by the way @ pjnt in England we use Nursery school .
22:34 October 12, 2012 by The-ex-pat
Handy is an English word that someone decided to use that sounded modern and trendy. Say handy to an Englishman and he will not have a clue what you are talking about. It is just an advertising executives made up word for an item. Mobile is the the correct word or cell if your are Colloquial Cousin. Shoppen does not exist in the English language, it is a German word that has been made up. As for schlepp, a quick Google has it's origins in Yiddish............??
00:42 October 13, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Where is Schmutz???

Where is Angst?

Where is Fest?

Where is Kitsch?

Never in my life have I heard an English speaker use 'Handy'.
08:41 October 13, 2012 by nightynight
I'm confused whether it's about German or Yiddish!
09:32 October 13, 2012 by Landmine
Can't say I have ever heard anyone say they "blitzed" anything in my 50 years speaking English
11:05 October 13, 2012 by sberlusconi77
silent silvio
15:10 October 13, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
In fairness, virtually every expat I know in Berlin uses the word "handy" for mobile/cell phone, even when speaking English. I reckon it's just one of those things, like the word "Amt" where it's easier to use the German word on certain occasions. However, I don't think these are commonplace among those who haven't lived here before.

However, "gloat" as the verb for "schadenfreude" is a bit off. It's more like gloating at someone's misfortune. But hey, close enough. All the other words seem common to me too, even "blitz" (in the context of blending food).
15:35 October 13, 2012 by gwenness
As an American, 80% of this list is valid. The people in the US use these words as there are shown in the article, which may be why I think it's funny and those people who speak real English (not Amerikanish Englisch) are perplexed by this list.

'blitz/blitzed' is overused there for everything from US Football plays to being very drunk. Handy is used for 'useful' or for a guy making himself happy, but never for cell phones. 'Uber' is such an overused adjective, I didn't even notice when people say it in California anymore. At least 8 of these 10 words are common in American English, but probably not in Europe :)
09:51 October 14, 2012 by 9900lawre
Blitz or Blitzed is a common word in the old school british military community.

It means getting rid of the crap and starting again to make like new. Eg "this place isn't good enough, so i want to see this place blitzed"
11:27 October 14, 2012 by Landmine
And no one at the Local thought the words Kaput or dumkopf was worth mentioning? They are probably the most used German words in the world
17:27 October 14, 2012 by iseedaftpeople
>Many - like "shlep" - were absorbed into Anglo slang by way of Yiddish, while others - like "Ersatz" - crossed the English Channel during the Second World War, only to become mainly obsolete.

the word "ersatz" btw stems from the word "Ersatzkaffee", a cheap coffee substitute that was popular in Germany in the first half of the 20th century when coffee wasn't as affordable for many people as today. So it's only fitting that "ersatz" in English has come to mean something that isn't the real deal, something that is inferior to the original product, and done or made on the cheap.
14:02 October 15, 2012 by michael4096
Once again, The Local readers find themselves divided by a common language. :-)

In addition to the words already mentioned, my list would include: panzer; leitmotief; lieder (as in classical song); waltz and blitzkrieg
19:52 October 19, 2012 by rwk
This article is junk. Important words such as Kindergarten are missing, while some of the words on the list are either rare or non-existent in English usage. Please, get people who know the English language to make such lists! Don't be a putz!
18:08 October 25, 2012 by Beachrider
Schlep, if actually German, is clearly still used in the Northeast USA, particularly New York.

Shtum, as in keep shtum, come through England in WWII, if memory is correct. Not in common usage in the USA AFAIK.

Blitz, clearly German, is mainly used in American Football. It is an aggressive, unconventional defensive move. I never heard it unless it borrowed from the Football usage.

uber, clearly German, isn't in common usage. Probably it is still considered a borrowed word.

Ersatz was mainly used for early dried potatoes and other instant food. It is rarely used now. The strikebreaker team for the New England Patriots were called the Ersatz Pats (it kinda rhymed), that was the last novel use I remember for this word (1987).

Zeitgeist is largely a literary concoction. I don't remember the last time a 'real' person used it.

Poltergeist was largely from the 1982 movie.

Rucksack is not a term that I have ever heard.

Schadenfreude is clearly known-only as a borrowed word. It is occasionally a convenient way of accusing someone of dark thoughts. It isn't widely understood, though.

Doppelganger does get some usage in the Western USA. Most frequently it is done instead of unlikely 'separated at birth' picture-presentations. Doppel goes a little deeper than simple appearances, though.
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