13 words Germans think are English
There are a number of English words that have made it into the German language but take on a completely different meaning. And they cause a bit of confusion with native English speakers. Here are our 13 favorites.
Dude, where's my Handy?
One of the best examples of an English word used frequently by Germans in a completely different way is Handy. In English this adjective means "convenient," but in German, a Handy is a cell phone. Let's face it, a cell phone can be quite handy, but what's not so handy is the confusion when Germans try to buy one in an English-speaking country.
Shall we watch this on a Beamer?
If you're invited to a DVD night by a German, chances are the word beamer will be dropped sooner or later. And no, if your German friend asks if you want to watch the movie on a Beamer, they don't mean sitting on top of a BMW. Beamer in German means video projector and is derived from the brand name of the very first CRT video projectors, the Advent VideoBeam 1000.
Wanna go to an Open Air today?
When in Berlin, it's vital to know what an Open Air is. If you look confused when someone suggests going to an Open Air - a party, festival, concert, movie screening or gathering of some sorts outside - you risk the scorn of Berlin's in-crowd. The word is most commonly used to describe illegally organized outdoor raves somewhere in the woods with a DJ, bubbles and happy hipsters.
Let's rent an Oldtimer
If you hear this sentence, please don't think your German friends want to borrow someone's grandparents for the day. Instead, they're talking about a vintage car. The term Oldtimer is so commonly used in German that you can find it written everywhere - in magazines, on exhibitions signs, at the car dealer, and of course in ads for "oldtimer" cars.
Stop mobbing me!
Mobbing in German is just as mean as bullying in English - after all, both words refer to ganging up on someone and harassing them in school, at work or online. The German word Mobbing comes from the English verb to mob and was first used for animals cooperatively attacking a predator. In the 1970s the term was introduced to describe bullying in the workplace and has now become common vocabulary.
Will you wear a Smoking to the wedding?
Wait what, you want me to smoke at your wedding? No, if a German asks you to dress in a Smoking, they really mean a tuxedo. The word comes from the old English smoking jacket - a velvet coat worn by men who'd go to the smoking room after dinner to have a drink and play cards. A change of jackets was necessary to not bother the ladies with the smell of smoke later - hence the name.
Let's do Public Viewing for the next game
The World Cup is just around the corner so be sure to add Public Viewing to your Anglo-German vocabulary. Public Viewing does not refer to going outside and watching as people walk past, it means watching a football match outside in public on a screen provided by the city, a restaurant or a bar. But if your team is losing, feel free to just watch strangers passing by as well.
Can you turn up the Box, please?
What do Germans mean by turn up the Box? Turn the box upside down? Will someone jump out of the box? Nope, sorry to disappoint, but in German a Box - more commonly used is the plural form, Boxen - really just means loud speakers attached to a stereo system. But who knows what will turn up if the music is loud enough.
He's such a Messie, it's gross!
Beware of invitations from someone who is considered a Messie. Feel free to politely turn them down because a Messie in German is a hoarder, a person with a compulsive hoarding disorder. The word comes from the English noun "mess" and was made popular by teacher Sandra Felton, who founded the self-help group Messies Anonymous in the 1980s.
Does your hotel offer Wellness?
The word Wellness can be found all over Germany and is advertised in almost every hotel. It is based on the English understanding of wellness as well-being, fitness and happiness. In Germany, however, it is specifically used as the equivalent of a spa where massages, saunas and steam rooms are offered. You want to do some Wellness? Keep an eye out for the signs "Wellness Area." This way, please.
Please don't tramp there!
When their daughters grow up and start taking roadtrips, German mothers might beg them not to tramp, because that's dangerous. After all, who knows who could pick them up? But no, they don't mean tramp as in looking cheap, provocative or resembling a hobo, they are talking about hitchhiking, because that's what the German verb "trampen" means.
Check out that awesome Showmaster
When Germans talk about a Showmaster, they don't mean a circus ringmaster but rather a presenter or TV host. The word was coined by a Dutch Showmaster himself, Rudi Carell (above), who was a famous entertainer on German TV. Nowadays, Germans even differentiate between different types of Showmaster: they've invented the Quizmaster, the host of a quiz show, and Talkmaster, a talk show host.
Do you like my brand new Pullunder?
Germans don't just use existing English words in rather creative ways; they also invent English sounding words that simply don't exist in English. Take, for instance, Pullunder. Invented as the opposite of pullover, a Pullunder is a sweater without sleeves or a vest without buttons worn under your jacket. It used to be called a Westover, because as long as it sounds English, it must be cool.