Language Learning

The best German phrases you’ll want in your vocabulary

‘Die Schnapsidee’: A ‘liquor-idea’ is either an amazing drunk plan or so stupid only a drunk person could have thought it. There are some things only these German phrases can describe.

German phrases

By Tongue Tied

Updated 31-1-2024

German is a beautiful language with lots of words that cannot be translated into English unless you’re describing them (which I will do below). There are no equivalent words in the English language, which makes these top German phrases a lot more special. You can find my favourite German words in English below.


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The best German phrases and their meanings




 Das Fingerspitzengefühl The feeling in your fingertips To have empathy with other people
 Die Schnapsidee A liquor-idea Either an amazing idea you have when drunk, or an idea that seems so stupid that the person who thought of it must have been intoxicated!
 Die Waldeinsamkeit The forest-loneliness The feeling you get when you are alone in the wild, with just nature around you.
  Torschlusspanik  Gate-shut panicThe feeling that time is running out, often for a life goal such as having children or finding ‘the one’.
 Dornröschenschlaf Beauty sleep When someone or something is not responding to you – or showing little sign of action.
 Gemütlichkeit  Feeling warm, cosy, relaxed and comfortable. For example, sitting by a warm fire with some friends.
 Scheinheilig  Someone who is pretending to be friendly and nice, but is actually very sneaky and coy.
 Fremdschämen  To be ashamed in somebody else’s place, for example when your friend says something stupid, and you stand next to them being ashamed in their place.
 Treppenwitz Staircase-wit A brilliant response or comeback you think of after you have walked away and are ‘halfway down the stairs’.
 Schadenfreude Malicious pleasure To take joy in somebody else’s pain or misfortune. For example, when the kid you never liked at school got punished by the teacher.