As a German who speaks quite fluent English I have internally complained a lot of times for the lack of certain words in English which are common nature in German. German is perceived as quite a rough language, but its also one of the most descriptive and precise ones in terms of expressing yourself.
Furthermore I like to call the language the transformer-language as Germans tend to have a lot of combinations of two words to create another one.
Therefor I decided to make a list of beautiful german words. While not all of those are non-existent in English, they still have something unique in their meaning or the combination of words used in order to express their meaning.
- Wunder = Miracle
- Schön = Beautiful
-> Translating to miraculously (or magically) beautiful.
Example: Du bist wunderschön. / You are miraculously beautiful.
- Vor = Before / Previous-
- Freude = Joy
Definition: The word “Vorfreude” describes the joy one feels in anticipation of something joyful to happen. Unlike anticipation, the word “Vorfreude” only associates to positive upcoming experiences.
An example of the feeling of “Vorfreude” would be as a child being happy short before ones birthday/christmas in anticipation of knowing one would get pleasant gifts.
- Augen = Eyes
- Blick = Gaze
Definition: It describes seeing that one split-second or the instant you see of pure beauty of something oustanding or special. It’s that one special moment - that special “Augenblick”. It is just one look, one gaze with the eyes.
- Hab und Gut = A phrase for naming your belongings
- Selig is the adjective form of Seele = Soul
- Selig = Blessed / Overjoyed / Blissful in a religious and/or spiritual way
- The ending of -keiten is a similar ending like the English -ing. It’s a grammatical necessarity.
Definition: “Habseligkeiten“ are your few belongings which are very special and precious to you and worth a lot to you on an emotional basis. A certain picture, something from your childhood, a remembrance of a beloved one and so on.
- The noun form of the word “geborgen”
- This word simply does not translate into English and several other languages. Only dutch and a few African languages have a similar word.
Definition: Geborgenheit is the feeling and state of complete safety and sense of well-being. It’s a mix of well-being, trust, acceptance, contentment, protection, security and love - often related to another loved person - but can also be related to a specific location. It’s the feeling of being in your mothers arms as a child while just letting go and feeling at home independent of where you are.
- Sehnen = Longing, Yearning, Craving
- Sucht = Addiction
Translates to a certain form of heavy longing, yearning and craving - a type of intensely missing something/someone.
Definition: It is difficult to translate as it is a very specific form of longing for something/someone. It comes from a deep emotional state you have for whatever you are longing for. It’s the realisation of the unfinished and imperfect aspects of this life and this world with the longing for a better, an ideal, a perfect alternative. Often it is a mix of negative as well as positive emotions - a sense of desperation coupled with a sense of hope. It’s the longing for a peaceful world, the craving to be again with your significiant other (even if you haven’t met that one yet) and so on.
Fun Fact: It’s a word which is sometimes used in the realms of psychology internationally for a lack of alternative words describing this phenomena.
- Glüh comes from Glühen = Glowing
- Birne = Pear
Definition: While the original name for a lightbulb is the “Glühlampe” (Lampe = Lamp), a more common choice to use is the word “Glühbirne” which translates to a glowing pear as lamps used to be only pear-shaped. A few other languages, like Hungarian, use that description as well.
- Fern = Distant / Far Away
- Weh = Aching
Definition: “Fernweh” is the opposite to Heimweh (Homesickness). It’s the longing and craving to travel and explore the far away places. Unlike Wanderlust, a more positive associated word, though “Fernweh” involves a feeling of sadness often mixed with nostaliga that one feels when desperately longing for visiting foreign lands and experiencing foreign cultures while being incapable of doing so in that moment.
- Staub = Dust
- Fänger = Catcher
Definition: It is an object, often used for decoration purposes and otherwise useless, which only serves to catch the floating dust around.
- Ent- = A grammatical form used at the start of verbs or nouns relating to a finish and/or ending.
- Schlafen = Sleeping
Definition: It’s a somewhat archaic and poetic way of saying someone passed away. It would translate to “slept away“.
- Kummer = Grief / Misery / Woe / Heartache
- Speck = Bacon / Lard
Definition: The word “Speck” can also be used to describe fat in german. A bit of a butt, the little waist fat one have, but also the excessive and obese kind of fat. “Kummerspeck” is therefor the fat and weight one gains when eating more due to emotional distress.
- Leben = Life
- Lauf = Comes from the word “laufen” which translates to walking
Definition: “Lebenslauf” describes your life resume for job applications and such and it translates to the path you walked in life in the past.
- Leben = Life
- Ja = yes
Definition: The word is used in a life-affirming way. It’s the feeling of knowing how much beauty and pleasantness life has to offer. It literally translates to saying yes to life.
- Leben = Life
- Müde = Tired
Definition: It’s a term you call people who do ridiculously risky things. Therefor you call them “Lebensmüde” like they seem tired of life.
- Zwei = Two
Definition: The word relates to “Einsamkeit” (Eins = One) which translates into loneliness. “Zweisamkeit“ is the opposite. It is being together with the very special loved one and only them. It is the feeling of you and him/her being in a bubble of only the two of you and nothing and no one else.
- Himmel = Sky / Heaven
- Richtung = Direction
Definition: Germans call the cardinal directions literally “(the) skys direction“
- Seele = Soul
- Verwandt = Related only in the sense of related to family-members.
Definition: The word “Seelenverwandt” describes two people, or two souls, who might not be blood-related, but are two of a kind. It’s not their blood which is related, but their souls. This can be a very close friendship as well as a romantic relationship. Two souls which were meant for each other.
- Welt = World
- Schmerz = Pain
Definition: “Weltschmerz” describes the pain, sometimes even apathy or depression, a person feels by comparing the actual state of the world with the ideal state. It’s the optimist being hit by reality.
- Fremd = Foreign / Alieniate / Strange
- Schämen = to feel shame / being embarrassed.
Definition: It’s the shame and embarrassment you feel for something another person does.
- Geist = In this context it is refering to the mind, but it can also mean ghost.
- Blitz = Lightning
Definition: A Geistesblitz is the moment of enlightment. When you get a smart idea, when you understood something, etc. It’s similar to the lightbulb metaphor
- Wort = Word
- Schatz = Treasure
Definition: It describes your vocabulary. It is the treasure made of words that you have collected throughout your life.