German textbooks usually teach you to say “es schmeckt” or “es schmeckt gut” (it tastes good) if someone asks you how your food is.
However, there is another way to say this that the textbooks often overlook: “lecker!”, which means as much as “delicious” or “yummy”.
The word originates from the middle high German word “lecker” which is also the root of the verb “lecken” (to lick).
While this seems strange at first, as a word-for-word translation might show up as “it’s a licker!”, it actually follows a similar logic to the word “tasty” which takes the verb “to taste” and turns it into an adjective.
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“Lecker” is similar, in that “lecken” is also sometimes used in the context of tasting something. In a cafe or informal eatery, especially in the south of Germany, you might see family members offer each other a taste of their drinks, and say “willst du mal daran lecken?” (Would you like a lick/taste).
However, as a descriptive word, “lecker” is only ever applied to food, specifically the taste of food, unless you haven’t tried it yet, in which case it can also be used to describe the smell.
A hungry dinner guest might say “das riecht aber lecker!” (That smells amazing!) while waiting within smelling distance of their eagerly awaited meal.
READ ALSO: Nine tasty German food and drink idioms
In West Central Germany, “lecker” is also used as a slang word for “attractive”. In this case, the word doesn’t adapt to the gender of the noun like most adjectives do, and so is used like this:
“Was für ein lecker Mann!”
What a good-looking man.
This is similar to the Dutch word “lekker”, which means “good” or pleasant in a broader sense. In Holland someone might say “Slaap lecker!” (sleep well) – though you would probably get some odd looks if you tried to use it that way in German.
Hast du was leckeres gekocht?
Have you cooked something tasty?
Das Essen war sehr lecker, danke.
The food was delicious, thank you.