German word of the day: Der Ohrenschmaus

Here's why this melodic word is a feast for the ears.

German word of the day: Der Ohrenschmaus
If you're deeply engrossed in the music you're listening to, like this man in Berlin, it could be said to be 'ein Ohrenschmaus'. Photo: DPA

The word Ohrenschmaus is used to describe something that sounds so heavenly and delightful to listen to, that it’s as good as eating an entire banquet on your own. 

If you hear an amazing song for the first time, you might describe it as an Ohrenschmaus. Equally, it can be used for when somebody says exactly the thing you want to hear (“Germany’s Bezirksämter have decided to use email to communicate,” for example). 

READ ALSO: Music to our ears: The top 10 melodic German phrases

It’s a compound word made of the German word for ears “Ohren” and the word “Schmaus”, which is a particularly delicious and hearty meal eaten with much enjoyment (yes, there’s a word that). 

Ohrenschmaus is a funny example of synesthesia, the mixing up of senses. 

Synesthesia is quite common in language, especially in literature. There are some phrases that are so widely used, we hardly even notice that they’re synesthesia, such as “smooth voices”, “feeling blue”, or “warm colours”. 

In this case, we are meant to notice the synesthesia of hearing (Ohren) and tasting (Schmaus). Ohrenschmaus is meant to be a little bit silly, there’s a sense of comic exaggeration. 

Perhaps some of the humour also lies in the fact that the pronunciation of Ohrenschmaus is not exactly an example of a “delightful sound”. 


Das Konzert war ein Ohrenschmaus!

The concert was a feast for the ears! 

Das Abendessen ist fertig – das ist ein Ohrenschmaus für mich.

Dinner is ready – these words are a feast for my ears.

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German word of the day: Umgangssprache

This is a good word to be aware of when you're looking out for phrases to add to your everyday vocabulary in Germany.

German word of the day: Umgangssprache

Why do I need to know Umgangssprache?

We may be getting a little meta here, but we think it’s worth knowing this word so you can listen out for the words around it (or know when not to use this type of language).

What does it mean?

Umgangssprache, which sounds like this, means ‘colloquial language’ or ‘slang’. These are the kinds of words and phrases you might not find in a textbook, but they are heard in everyday life.

By using slang vocabulary, you’ll be able to bring your sentences to life and sound like a true local.

The term is said to have been introduced into the German language by the writer and linguist Joachim Heinrich Campe at the beginning of the 19th century.

Umgangssprache is shaped by the world around it, whether its regional factors or social circumstances of the time. 

Here are a few examples of colloquial phrases and words:

Geil means horny in German, but it is also used colloquially to describe anything you think is cool. In English, you might use the word ‘sick’ or ‘awesome’ in the same context.

Krass is another colloquial word that can mean lots of things. It is usually used to intensify the meaning of something very bad or something very good depending on the tone and context. So something disgusting is krass, and something amazing can also be krass

Das ist mir Wurst translates to ‘that’s sausage to me’, and means you don’t give a toss. 

Das ist doch Käse translates to ‘that’s cheese’ and expresses that you mean something is absolute nonsense. 

And a ruder one is: Das ist am Arsch der Welt. It means ‘that’s the arse of the world’ and refers to a place that is far away or very difficult to reach. In English you might say ‘back of beyond’. 

You would hear these kinds of phrases in relaxed conversations in cafes and bars, but they aren’t so common in formal situations. 

Use it like this:

Ist das Umgangssprache oder kann ich das bei meinem Chef benutzen?

Is that colloquial language or can I use it with my boss?

Mir gefällt die umgangssprachliche Floskel: auf dein Nacken!

I really like the colloquial phrase ‘this is on you!’