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List of German expressions in English
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List of German expressions in English

Below is a list of German expressions used in English. Some are relatively common (such as hamburger or gestalt), but most are comparatively rare. In many cases, the German borrowing in English has assumed a substantially different meaning than its German forebear.

German words have been incorporated into English usage for various reasons. Common cultural items, especially foods, have spread to English-speaking nations and are often identified by their German names. The history of excellence among German-speaking nations in science, scholarship, and classical music has led to many German words being adopted by academics for use in English contexts. Discussion of German history and culture requires use of German words. Lastly, some German words are used simply to a fictional passage by implying that the thing being expressed is German, as in Frau or Reich, although sometimes the use of German terms has no German implication, as in doppelganger or angst.

English and German are descended from the same common ancestor, called Proto-Germanic. Because of this, a number of English words are identical to their German counterparts either in spelling (Hand, Finger) or in pronunciation (Fish = Fisch). These words are excluded from this list.

Table of contents
1 German terms commonly used in English
2 German terms commonly used in academic contexts in English
3 German terms mostly used for literary effect
4 German terms rarely used in English
5 Related topics

German terms commonly used in English

Words in this category will be recognized by most English speakers and are commonly used in English. A few, such as delicatessen and hinterland, are often used without awareness that that are originally German. It should be noted that some words in this list (hamburger, kindergarten) are more common than others (ersatz, wanderlust).

Food and drink

Sports and recreation

Other aspects of everyday life

German terms commonly used in academic contexts in English

German terms frequently appear in several academic disciplines in English, notably in history, psychology, philosophy, music and the physical sciences. Non-specialists in a given field may or may not be familiar with a given German term.




(Some terms are listed in multiple categories, if they are important to each.)

Das Dritte Reich (The Third Reich)

See Glossary of the Third Reich.

Other historical periods

Noble titles

General military terms

Military ranks



Mathematics and formal logic



Physical sciences


Academic culture

German terms mostly used for literary effect

There are a few terms which are recognised by many English speakers but are usually only used to deliberately evoke a German context:

German terms rarely used in English

This is the unsorted, original list. If a term is common in a particular academic discipline, and there is no more commonly used English equivalent, then please move it to the list above.

Related topics