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.