German word of the day: Gurkentruppe

In the long list of German insults, this is a personal favourite of ours. Here's why you may need to bring a 'troop of cucumbers' with you to the next second-league football match you watch.

German word of the day Gurkentruppe
Photo: Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

Gurkentruppe (Gur·ken·trup·pe), made up of the German terms for ‘cucumber’ (die Gurke) and ‘troop’ (die Truppe), is generally used to refer to a group of amateurs or incompetents attempting to carry out a task. 

Perhaps the most common translation into English of this word would be ‘a bunch of amateurs’. It can be used in a number of contexts, but is most commonly used to refer to situations in the workplace, sports or in politics where people with little sense or experience get in over their heads on a task. 

In a country famed for its productivity, you wouldn’t expect this to be a popular addition to the roster of oddly specific and accurate German words, but it seems like even Germans have their workplace woes. 

And in fact, this word has a certain efficiency and cleverness of its own. Cucumbers are the only vegetable enjoyed whilst still unripe – similarly, the football team or cabinet of politicians that this term may be used to refer to are likely not experienced or mature enough to do their job correctly. 

Particularly for sportspeople, the prospect of your team being described as a Gurkentruppe is a truly horrifying one. It is one of the many amusing sport-related pieces of slang terminology used in German.

READ ALSO: German words you need to know: die Streicheleinheit

Another example is the haunting spectre of ‘Oma’ (grandma): if your team is performing particularly badly, Germans are wont to remark that their grandma could have done better than you. If a player fails to score what looked like an easy goal, you’ll hear resentful mutters of ‘den hätte sogar meine Oma gemacht’ (‘even my grandma could have done that’) across the pitch. 

“Oi, ref! Get that troop of cucumbers under control!” Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

So although describing your least favourite players as cucumbers and comparing them to your gran might not seem like the most devastating of put-downs, in Germany they’re quite cutting insults. But the beauty of this particular misanthropic word is that it’s so versatile – slip it into your conversations about politics, sports, work, study and more to look like a real German pro. 

READ ALSO: Borders to cucumbers: Five German words that come from Polish


Der Kommentator bezeichnete die Fußballmannschaft als Gurkentruppe.

The commentator described the football team as a bunch of amateurs.

Der Trainer hätte seine Gurkentruppe auf die Niederlage vorbereiten müssen.

The coach should have prepared the bunch of amateurs for defeat

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German Word of the Day: die Ausrede

If you want to get out of a date, or you haven’t done your homework – you might need one of these.

German Word of the Day: die Ausrede

This little German word can come in handy in a variety of situations.

Ausrede, Meaning “excuse” consists of the verb reden which means “to talk” or “to speak” and the prefix aus which translates as “out”, “off” or “from”.

So, a good way to remember the word is to think of it as a tool you use for talking yourself out of something. 

One thing to bear in mind, however, is that in German, the word Ausrede has a slightly negative connotation and can be used to hint that the reason given is fabricated.

So, if you want to tell your boss that you have a good reason for why you can’t come to work, it’s better to say you have eine Entschuldigung (also meaning excuse) instead.

Another thing to watch out for is trying to use the verb ausreden in the same way as the English “to excuse”. In German, the verb ausreden actually means to finish speaking, for example: ich lasse ihn ausreden means “I let him finish speaking”.


Er hat nach einer Ausrede gesucht

He was looking for an excuse

Diesmal habe ich keine Ausrede
This time I have no excuse
Besser keine Ausrede als eine schlechte
Better to have no excuse than a bad one