Untranslatable German words

Untranslatable words arfood-man-person-eatinge wonderful things. Here are a few of my favourite German ones.

Sondern = it’s a type of “but” (but different).

Doch = it’s a type of “but” (but different).

Stammtisch = a regular meeting round a table, where you can play cards, talk politics and drink.

Kaffeekränzchen = a regular meeting round a table where you can eat big cakes.

Gemütlichkeit = “cosiness”, the mood of a Kaffeekränzchen. (This word is so important it even has its own Wikipedia page, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gem%C3%BCtlichkeit

Spießig = “middle class people with uninspiring lives full of routine and with a penchant for conformity”.

– “petty bourgeois”

– “(very) middle-class”

– “philistine”

– “narrow-minded”

– “square”

– “white-bread”  (?)


I would add “unimaginative”. Think of the Dursleys in the Harry Potter books.

Note: this word is so untranslatable, you may consider setting up a  Stammtisch to discuss it.


This post first appeared in a longer version here: https://speakeasyandwritewell.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/these-are-a-few-of-my-favourite-words/


  • JP

    I like ‘doch’. You can pretend you know more German than you do by repeating this and nodding.

      • Satchel

        You are so awesome for helping me solve this myyrtes.

        • Helen Waldron

          Ha ha, Satchel. Untranslatable words are mysterious!

  • Lorren

    Reading posts like this make surfing such a pluraese

    • Helen Waldron

      That’s really kind of you. Thank you, Lorren!