English words of German origin

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German and British language
English is a Germanic language, which means it is in the same family as German. Because of this many words are very similar or the same in both languages. This article is not about those, it is about words that came to modern English from modern German. We also have other posts about words from Italian, French, Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese. If we haven’t covered your language yet, leave a message and we’ll do it soon!  

Technical words

Most words that and Business English uses from German are technical words. They are used all the time within their fields, but we don’t use them in normal everyday conversation. However there are a few you might have come across before especially if you like reading in English, for example: angst, einkorn, fife (from Pfeife), flugelhorn, geist, hinterland, Kaiser, knickpoint, leitmotif (from Leitmotiv), ubermensch, and umlaut.

British Food in German

The most popular words used in English that come from German are (as with most other languages) words related to food. Some of them are so common that most people don’t even realise they are German words. Hamburger, gummy bear (from Gummibar), muesli, noodle (from nudel), lager and even bundt cake (from Bundkuchen) are all words of German origin. Some other words related to food still bring back German connections, like bratwurst (or sometimes brat), pretzel (from Bretze), pumpernickel, sauerkraut, wiener and strudel. Another word that most people don’t realise comes from German is deli. The long version is delicatessen, from the German Delikatessen.

Other words

Besides food and harder technical words, there are other common words that made their way to modern English from German. Doberman, poodle, rottweiler and some other names of dog races are originally German. As is the word hamster. Two very ‘German’ words almost everyone knows are Oktoberfest and lederhosen, and of course also fest to talk about any sort of festival. Another word that has become popular in recent years especially is uber. Rucksack is also a German word, as is kindergarten (be careful with that one, many people spell it ‘kindergarden’ with a d but it should be with a t!). And if you like art you have probably also come across the word kitsch.