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