German is renowned for having long compound words. Germans’ creativity for creating compound words gives way to a rich vocabulary of German insults. Insults are known as beleidigungen in German.
One of the greatest things about German is the rich vocabulary these compound words create.
The last time I was in Germany, a friend, a friend from Ireland commented on how some of German’s compound words have made their way into the English dictionary. Examples such as Schadenfreude and Doppelgänger come to mind. He suggested the Germans should have a word for the way we feel some sense of panic when we wonder where our cell phone is. That’s when I made up the word Ohnehandyangst.
While Ohnehandyangst may never make it into the German dictionary, we’ve complied a list of 15 German insults. Here they are in alphabetical order from Arschgeige to Zungenbrecher. Actually Zungenbrecher isn’t an insult, it just means tongue twister, but we couldn’t resist the temptation to share an extra compound German word with you just for fun.
Ready? For Beleidigungen? Here we go!
15 German Insults That Every Beginner Should Learn Today
1. Arschgeige – literally: ass violin – idiot, Dummkopf. Somebody who just can’t do anything right. It’s a mild insult that Germans use in friendly settings.
Wondering how to pronounce arschgeige? Listen to this short video where a you’ll hear the correct pronunciation first slowly, then at normal speed.
You might also enjoy Buzzfeed’s post which includes mostly compound words, most of which are not insults, but what they call ‘24 words that are better in German.’
2. Arschkriecher – literally: ass crawler, brown noser, ass kisser. The feminine form is Arschkriecherin.
You can hear the pronunciation here.
3. Bananenbieger – literally: banana bender – somebody who is involved in a pointless occupation or somebody who’s going nowhere and will end up doing meaningless work. The feminine form is Bananenbiegerin.
4. Erbsenzähler – literally: pea counter – somebody who complains about any little thing, somebody who pays attention to meaningless details, somebody who nitpicks, The feminine form is Erbenzählerin.
5. Gehirnverweigerer – literally: brain denier, brain holdout = somebody who refuses to use their brain. You can use the word Verweigerer in other ways in German as well. For example, if you refuse to use Facebook, you are a Facebook-Verweigerer. The feminine form is Gehirnverweigererin.
6. Hosenscheisser – literally: trouser-shitter – coward, loser. Also written as Hosenscheißer in Germany. The feminine form is Hosenscheisserin.
7. Hundesohn – literally: son of a dog. It’s not as strong as Hurensohn, which is son of a bitch. The feminine form is Hundetochter, daughter of a dog. While Hurentochter would be the daughter of a bitch.
A few words about the masculine and feminine forms of German insults
By now you’ve noticed that the German nouns that show the action that somebody does, such as bending, counting, crawling, denying, and shitting end in -er for men and -erin for women. Some of the German insults apply to both men and women, such as Arschegeige.
The next four insults can apply to either men or women, because the noun is a metaphor rather than a person. Those nouns include: puke, squeegees, carnations, and spoons.
Ready to use these nouns in compound German words? Let’s go.
8. Kotzbrocken – literally: lump of puke. You would use this to mean a contemptible person. Der Kotzbrocken was even the title of a comedy film that appeared on German TV in 2015. Kotzbrocken applies in both the masculine and feminine.
9. Pissflitsche – literally: squeegee for cleaning the piss (as in from the floors of public toilets). You could use this insult to refer to an unpleasant and disgusting person.
10. Pissnelke – literally: piss-carnation – nerd
11. Rotzlöffel – literally: snot-spoon – brat
12. Schlappschwanz – literally: relaxed (non energetic) tail. But Schwanz is also a common word used in German for cock. So a Schlappschwanz would literally mean a limp cock. Germans use this word as an insult to mean a wimp or a wuss, a quitter, a pansy, a coward.
13. Speichellecker – literally: saliva licker. This is another way to say Arschkriecher, which you learned earlier. The feminine form is Speichelleckerin. Germans have a number of synonyms for this, including: Duckmãuser, Kriecher, Lakai, Schmeichler, Schleimer, Schleimscheißer, and Steigbügelhalter.
15. Stinkstiefel – literally: smelly boot – grouch.
15. Tratschtante – literally: gossip-aunt – blabbermouth, rumourmonger, gossipmonger.
Finding German Insults on YouTube
Learning Insults from Germans
One YouTuber called ‘DontTrustTheRabbit’ categorizes German insults in the following order: stupid people, chatterboxes, losers. Unpleasant outward appearance, annoying women, annoying children, animals, and dogs. Need more insults? Take a look at her video on YouTube.
Another YouTuber, names Maebbie, has created a video called ‘Learn German Insults’. He uses Memrise, which is an app and website where you can study languages and use mnemonics to help you remember new words and expressions. There is a whole section on German insults in Memrise that you can access and study the insults while you are on the go.
Katia is another German YouTuber. She has the channel Deutsch für Euch. She has a video to teach you swear words and German insults.
You’ll also find Peter’s channel on YouTube, GermanChannel TL. Peter will teach you some insults in German in his episode ‘German insult words’
Learning German Insults from US Americans
While most of the YouTubers teaching German on YouTube are native speakers, there are a few videos from US Americans as well.
The YouTuber SamWaltonMan teaches you about how to insult people in German and seeks comments from native German speakers to confirm what he has observed as an American living in Germany.
On the YouTube channel, Boneclicks, you’ll also be able to listen to German insults.
Now that you are armed with 15 German insults, the next question is where will you use them? The first thing to do is to look out for them in real life, in TV shows and in German movies. When you are more comfortable with their uses in context, ask some of your native German friends and your German teachers about the examples where Germans may use these insults. Consider keeping a notepad handy when you watch videos in German. You can later use the notes you take to gain insights into German culture and language from your native-speaking German friends and from your German teachers.
HiNative.com is another place where you can ask about cultural insights behind the German language. You can also help others by leaving comments for people who are learning your native language. It’s a place where you can really be a Pissnelke when it comes to languages.