“Denglisch” words that every Expat in Germany will love to regularly use


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Denglisch is deeply rooted in German culture. How do you use English words in German?

Denglisch contains words that are borrowed from English – such as “Show”, “Lifestyle” or “Download” and a number of pseudo-Anglicisms, i.e. words that sound like English but are not. Examples are “Beamer”, “Handy” or “Dressman”. If ou are learning German, maybe you should avoid Denglisch. Find out more in order to speak Denglisch like the Germans.

Denglisch: German use of English words or phrases that are either used differently in English – or even do not even exist!

What is the defination of Denglish?

Most Germany consider English very cool! From the latest trends, business and marketing terminology or the latest products. They try and use English words or term which many consider simply sophisticated or hip.

How do Germany define Denglisch? They define it as “English made in Germany” –
It is not surprising that many of these Anglicisms or pseudo-Anglicisms have become established in the German language.

In Deglisch, English is not always the same as English. Rather, Denglisch: Many English words or phrases have a different meaning in the German language than in our English-speaking neighbors. Often they don’t even exist in English!

English vs. Anglicism vs. Denglish.

Now you have an idea what Denglisch is. How different is it to Anglicism? The difference is marked. Simply put, anglicism is the translation of an English word into a non-English language. English terms can be translated into German in different ways:

  • Some words actually close a gap in the German vocabulary: “brainstorming”
  • For others there is actually a German equivalent: “highlight”.
  • There are anglicisms that have been incorrectly translated: “administration” as administration instead of government
  • And there are pseudo-Anglicisms: “Handy”
  • The most conspicuous are the German-English hermaphrodites. For words like “covered”, “downgeloadet”, “googled” or “Gesimst” the German declension is simply superimposed on the English term.

When looking at this development critically, one would speak of “Denglish” especially with regard to the last phenomenon: This term is derogatory, while Anglicism is used in a value-neutral manner.

Useful Denglisch examples Expats in Germany should remember



“Ruf mich doch am Handy an” is a Denglisch classic. This word does exist in the English vocabulalary but has another meaning. It has nothing to do with cell phones. This anglicism in the original English simply means practical or at hand.

Denglisch: Handy
English: mobile phone (UK) or cell phone (US)

Body bag


“Das Essen habe ich in meinem Bodybag gepackt” Germans will use the words body bag for a normal shoulder bag. Which in the above example sounds very gross and disturbing. In english, a body bag is a bag used for carrying a corpse from a battlefield or the scene of an accident or crime.

Denglisch: Bodybag
English: a shoulder bag



“Ich habe auf deine Mailbox gesprochen” To a native American English speaker, you sound ridiculous. Who talks to a mailbox? Do you need medication? A mailbox in US English means the actual place you put in physical mail.

Denglish: Mailbox
English: voicemail

Public viewing


“Fans beider Mannschaften freuen sich auf das Public Viewing” In English, you are trying to say a screening or presentation for the public. Public viewing on the other hand could be an exhibition, an open house or even the laying out of a corpse!

Denglisch: Public Viewing
English: public / outdoor screening



“Die Präsentation schauen wir uns gleich am Beamer an”: The native English speaker might get his shoes and jacket and head for the garage. Because beamer is the nickname for a BMW in everyday US English. In British English, a beamer is a ball bowled directly at a batsman’s head or upper body without bouncing (regarded as unsporting).

Denglish: Beamer
English: projector



“Wir sind schon sehr gespannt auf das Shooting” In English the word shooting means something very dangerous. No American would voluntarily go to a shooting, let alone be excited. Anglicism means taking photos in German, but shooting in English .

Denglish: Shooting
English: photo shoot



“Sie ist eine richtige Messie”: Here the Englishman would immediately think of the Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi and not of someone who doesn’t keep his apartment tidy. Although: who knows what the apartment of Messi and his wife Antonella Roccuzzo looks like? This Denglish word comes from the English mess (disorder or dirt). The derived messy is only used as an adjective in English and means messy or chaotic . I have to admit that I almost prefer Messie to the correct but somewhat complicated English term compulsive hoarder

Denglish: Messie
English: (compulsive) hoarder



“Habt ihr meinen Timer gesehen?” You have dutifully entered everything in your diary, but you have lost it now, of all times. “Have you seen my timer?” So you ask your an English speaker they will be looking for something completely different. Because although timer has two meanings in German – an appointment calendar and a device that measures the time – the English meaning of timer is limited to the latter. Britons keep appointments in a diary or personal organizer .

Denglish: Timer
English: diary, personal organizer

Expats should be conscious of their use of Denglisch

You will get the feeling everyone in Germany is speaking English. Wir joggen, facetimen and kaufen Coffee to go. Many Germans find this scary and fear that German as a language could soon disappear. The question therefore arises: How much English can the German language tolerate?

Denglisch Pros

  • Denglisch can be a creative addition to the German language especially since the German vocabulary has gaps that can be wonderfully filled with anglicisms. 
  • Is there a German word for t-shirt? English is short and precise; you don’t need a cumbersome translation.

Denglisch Cons

  • Beware of speaking Denglisch around older people. Older people in particular, who don’t speak much English, feel excluded and find their way around more in everyday life.
  • Don’t use Denglish to show off or to show that you are educated and modern. English phrases can be empty of content or obscure what is actually meant. Sometimes they are downright confusing and even embarrassing – does “Bad Design” mean bathroom design or bad design?


Tim Gumbert
Tim Gumbert
Tim is the go-to guy when it comes to finding all the gems regarding life as an Expat in Germany. His whole motto is discover Germany on your own and without a roadmap, explore new routes while climbing or mountain biking.


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