10 words and phrases you'll need to survive Oktoberfest

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10 words and phrases you'll need to survive Oktoberfest
Photo: DPA

If you want to mingle with local beer drinkers, you'd better speak their tongue. And your school German won't be of much help in the deep south.


This September again, millions of Germans and internationals are preparing to celebrate one of the Bundesrepublik's most famous traditions: the Oktoberfest.

It's taking place for the 183rd time in the Bavarian capital of Munich from September 17th through October 3rd.

But while you may have had your Lederhosen at the ready for years, do you actually know how to order beer in Bavarian?

Here are 10 words and phrases you'll need to survive this southern German drinking marathon. 

1. Wiesn - Oktoberfest

If you want to impress the locals, you’re not going to talk about how much you love Oktoberfest, you'll call it "die Wiesn".

A sentence like “I moag die Wiesn” (I like Oktoberfest/Wiesn) will quickly capture those proud Bavarian hearts.

2. Tracht – the attire

Dress yourself in this most beautiful Bavarian attire. Photo: DPA

Oktoberfest is your chance to finally feel like a true German and put on the Lederhosen or Dirndl in your closet without shame.

If you want to go all out, you can even add two accessories to embellish the costume: so called Loferls are a fancy leg warmer for your calves, which, accompanied by ankle-socks called Füßlinge, will turn you into the ultimate Bavarian.

3. "O zapft is!" – It’s tapped

But the festival only really begins once the mayor of Munich officially taps the first beer barrel at 12pm on the first day and shouts out: ”O zapft is!”

Last year mayor Dieter Reiter demonstrated his prowess at the "Anzapfen" (keg tapping) ceremony by taking just two strikes with the hammer to get the job done.

4. A Maß - a litre of beer

Bayern Munich's football star Thomas Müller at Wiesn. Photo: DPA

Which brings us to the reason why people go the festival in the first place: beer. “A Maß, bitte” will get you a litre of a delicious Oktoberfest brew.

5.“Oans, zwoa, g’suffa” - One, two drink

But before you down it, don’t forget to chink glasses with your friends along with a "Trinkspruch" - a phrase you say before drinking.

Bawling out “Oans, zwoa, g’suffa” in an Anglo-Bavarian accent will show you've picked up real Oktoberfest parlance - and will earn you the immediate respect of your Bavarian musketeers. 

6. A Biafuizl – beermat/coaster

Never leave your coaster out of sight. Photo: Public domain/Wikimedia Commons

... is what you’ll be resting your beer on after a long, delicious gulp of it.

While you're free to build little towers from them in your state of slight tipsiness, don't ever throw them away. They're often used to keep count of the number of Maß you've ordered - and you don't want to mess with one of those thick-armed waiters and waitresses. 

7. Ogschdocha - drunk

Once you’ve got a few marks on that Baifuizl, you’ll be feeling a bit ogschdocha. 

You might want to practice saying the word before you enter a beet tent: trying to pronounce ogschdocha drunk is nearly impossible for anyone but a Bavarian.

8. “Wo is’ns Haisl?” - where's the bathroom 

Where there's beer, a Haisl shouldn't be too far. Don't expect it to be this clean! Photo: DPA

But the more you catch the Wiesn-vibe, the more you feel like you could drink on forever - if it wasn't for your bladder.

Better ask someone “Wo is’ns Haisl?” before you make a mess in your smart, new Lederhosen.

9. schbei’m - puking

Worse even, you realise that your stomach isn’t quite as German as you thought it was.

If that happens - and it happens to the best Bavarians - let your friends know that you're finding the next tree to "schbei'm".

10. Brezl/Brezn – pretzel

Better fill your stomach before you down that Maß. Photo: DPA

The best precaution against hurling out that precious beer: have a meal before.

A single Brezn may not do the job, but in combination with a Hendl (grilled chicken) or a Bauernseufzer (a smoked sausage but literally a “farmer’s sigh”), your stomach should be steeled for a Bavarian drinking bout. 

SEE ALSO: Beefy Bavarian tries to smash world beer-carrying record



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