In German there are always German words that have no English translation. Some words are so embedded in their cultural context that there is no equivalent word or phrase in any other language. There are also German words with no English translation and English words with no German translation.

German Words With No English Translation

Here are some of those difficult to translate German words.

  1. Heimat

Heimat literally means homeland, home or heritage in English. However, in reality, the German word is much more complex than the meaning attached to it. Some German speakers use it to mean a sense of belonging or familiarity. Heimat may also convey some associations with childhood, family or close friends. There is no real equivalent in English and it’s one of the German words that have no English translation.

  1. Mahlzeit!

If you are employed in a large office in Germany, you might have noticed colleagues saying Mahlzeit! to you when you are going either in or out from a canteen. This it seems is a phrase specifically used by work colleagues during lunch breaks and there is no translation for it in English. It doesn’t mean even anything like ‘Enjoy your meal’ that you may hear people saying to each other in an English

  1. Sympathisch

If you feel close to someone, to the extent you can trust them, you may use this word. There is no equivalent word found in English.

  1. Eben!

A person may use the word eben when describing a surface as level, smooth, or flat. It also means when you agree with someone else’s opinion.  Also, in the dictionary, it means you are reinforcing a statement and confirming some prior action. There is no single word in English that provides a satisfactory translation. There are no doubt similar words in English that have no German translation.

  1. Gemütlich

Gemütlich cannot be simply translated into English because, for Germans, anything from a sweater to an event could be gemütlich. Even enjoying and sharing a mulled glass of wine at a Christmas market with friends is called gemütlich. Also, the word can be used to refer to how comfortable a middle class and prosperous life is.

  1. Spießigkeit

This is another of the German words that have no English translation. This word, when used by young Germans, describes somebody as stuffy, conservative or square. Another translation states that Spießigkeit is interchangeable with parochialism. A further translation indicates that Spießer is used about someone in a derogatory sense meaning “complies to certain social norms” and can’t take any changes to his or her living environment.

These are just some of the German words that have no English translation and no doubt there are some English words that have no German translation either!