10 German words to express yourself better

The German language is famous for the relatively long words. The reason is that in German is common to combine two words or more to form a new one with its own meaning. This makes the creation of new words in the language very simple and that’s the reason there are so many unique words in German. Here are some I find very interesting.

Zugzwang = Zug (move) + Zwang (being forced)

Have you ever felt trapped, forced to take a decision? That’s what the word “Zugzwang” describes. The term comes from the chess and describes the moment the chess player is forced to make a move that will surely worsen his game.

Nowadays, “Zugwang” describes the pressure to make a strategic move, to make an important decision.


Fremdschämen = Fremd (alien, outer) + Schämen (shame)

Have you ever felt “ashamed of others”? “Fremdschämen” is exactly that, the shame we feel when other people are in an awkward situation and we feel pity or shame for them.


Vergangenheitsbewältigung = Vergangenheit (past) + Bewältigung (overcome, reconcile)

Vergangenheitsbewältigung” describes a person or society who dealt with the past and overcame it. This word is often used to describe the process to understand and overcome the Second World War and the Holocaust.


Torschlusspanik = Torschluss (to lock a gate) + Panik (panic)

Feeling old? Are you without a career, without a family and children and started to panic? “Torschlusspanik” describes this fear we feel when we think an opportunity is passing by.


Fahrvergnügen = fahren ( “drive”) + Vergnügen ( “pleasure”)

The meaning of this word is very clear, describes the simple pleasure of driving.


Fernweh = fern (distance) + weh (grief, pain)

Everyone has felt homesick, but have you’ve ever missed being away from home? Ever wished to be in other than where you are? So you felt “Fernweh“.


Waldeinsamkeit – Wald (forest) + Einsamkeit (Loneliness)

Did you ever go out to a walk in the nature and felt an inner peace, a connection with the world? Of course the Germans have a word to this: “Waldeinsamkeit“.


Kummerspeck = Kummer (sadness) + Speck (bacon, fat)

You’ve had a stressful day at work or argued with your partner and ate a whole pot of ice cream or three Big Macs? Beware of the “Kummerspeck“, excess weight gained due to binge eating.


Weltschmerz = Welt (world) + Schmerz (pain)

Corruption, terrorism, violence, all these things makes you sad, lethargic? So you’re feeling “Weltschmerz“, that feeling of sadness caused by the depressing state of the world.


Treppenwitz = Treppen (ladder) + Witz (joke)

You revive a discussion in your head, you come up with the best arguments and passes all day thinking about it, congratulations you just experienced a “Treppenwitz“.


Which of these is your favorite? Do you know any other interesting word in German?

About Nathalia

Polyglot Nerd creator, love foreign cultures and learning languages. Speak: English, Portuguese and Spanish. Learning: French
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