The German language has forever been at the receiving end of jokes, most of which revolve around the notion that no matter how pleasantly the language is spoken, it still sounds like the speaker is angry. Moreover, the affinity of the language for long-winding compound nouns is as fascinating as it is hilarious. But the fact remains that this language, with a rich literary tradition, boasts amazingly creative words – some of which are virtually impossible to pronounce without stumbling, some quirky and some so beautiful that you would wish you had them in your language.
No, I didn’t forget the space bar. This 79-letter tongue-twister to beat all tongue-twisters is a real word, translating to ‘Association of subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services’. It is the longest German word ever coined. Though it was abolished by the German spelling reform of 1996, no list of unique German words is complete without a mention of this word.
The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes this mammoth word as the longest German word in regular use. It translates to “insurance companies providing legal protection.” As Mark Twain once said, “Some German words are so long that they have perspective.”
Tote Hose (dead trousers) is the feeling of intense boredom, the kind that makes you feel as if time has come to a standstill and the phase you are going through will never end.
This is a beautiful word, one that we need in every language. Fernweh (distance pain) is the aching need to be somewhere else, to travel or get away. It’s roughly the opposite of homesickness.
Innerer Schweinhund (inner pig dog) is that avatar of your personality that snoozes the alarm five times to catch two extra hours of sleep. It is the little devil inside you that convinces you that life is too short to get up, rush, hurry or do just about anything.
Drachenfutter is a peace offering, in kind or favor, by a husband or boyfriend to appease his partner as a compensation for doing something wrong or inconsiderate. If you think it’s funny that the Germans have a word for it, wait till you hear the translation – dragon feed!
Kummerspeck (grief bacon) is the flab you gain due to emotional overeating. If you have ever polished off a family-size tub of ice-cream while watching 27 Dresses (2008) surrounded by tissues, you have experienced Kummerspeck.
You know how the perfectly fitting response to something someone said comes to you after the conversation is already over? That annoying phenomenon is treppenwitz (staircase wit), which refers to the most amazing lines or comebacks you think of too late (figuratively, on your way down the stairs after the conversation).
Torschlusspanik (closing door panic) is the fear of opportunities lost forever, dreams not realized or goals not accomplished before a figurative ‘door closes’, meaning before it’s too late. The next time your mom’s friend makes an unsolicited reference to your ticking biological clock, advice her to not indulge in Torschlusspanik, and make your escape while she is trying to figure it out.
Geborgenheit (secure-ness) was actually voted to be among the most beautiful words in the German language. Much of its charm is lost in translation, but it roughly means to be completely present in a given situation, to experience a moment of unadulterated happiness or an intense feeling of satisfaction with a situation.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.