15 hilarious German insults to swear in style

Hey we get it, you need to blow off some steam right now, and no surprise, you want to do it German. It’s the language of Marlene Dietricht and Hanz Gruber for f(*&s sake. Well, you’ve come to the right place – a niche e-learning language blog banking posts for SEO and entertainment purposes.

1) Erbsenzähler

Erbsenzähler! You’d think that doesn’t sound very polite, but then again you’d be wrong. Calling someone a “pea counter” should be an affectionate remark. In reality, the word actually describes an over-scrupulous person who pays attention to even the most meaningless of details rather than the big picture – it can also be used to denote somebody who complains a lot. An English equivalent would probably be a nitpicker. Note: pea counting is a fun quarantine activity if you’ve got the means and the beans.

Fun fact: Erbsenzähler has been part of the German language since the 16th century. Pretty amazing to think the common pea was a staple even then. 

Example: Mein Steuerberater ist unzufrieden mit mir, weil ich vergessen habe, mein Jahresgehalt in der Steuererklärung anzugeben. Was für ein Erbsenzähler.

Translation: “My accountant is unhappy with me because I forgot to report my annual salary on my tax return. What a nitpicker!”


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2) Kotzbrocken

You certainly do not want to step in this puddle. Kotzbrocken – literally “lump of puke”, is a charming German insult used to describe a despicable and contemptible human being. A pain in the a** would probably be a most accurate English equivalent. Both you and the person you dare call a Kotzbrocken will know that your relationship is likely compromised. Be forewarned.

Fun fact: Der Kotzbrocken was the title of a comic film that appeared on German TV in 2015.

Example: Dass Promis, die Reichen und Schönen, manchmal einen Knall haben und arrogante Kotzbrocken sein können, ist nichts Neues.

Translation: “The fact that celebrities, the rich and famous, can sometimes have a pop and be arrogant pukes is nothing new.”

3) Backpfeifengesicht

We all know somebody who is Backpfeifengesicht or at least has Backpfeifengesicht tendencies. This polysyllabic expletive breaks down into 3 separate words: Backe (cheek), Pfeife (whistle) and Gesicht (face), literally translating as “cheek whistle face”. It basically refers to a person who is badly in need of a slap in the face. Pretty self-explanatory if you ask us.

Fun fact: Die Ärzte, a famous German punk band, named one of their songs Backpfeifengesicht. The lyrics describe a person who has a stupid look on his face – a look that seems to have annoyed the songwriter.

Example : Sein Verhalten ist so nervig, und dann hat er auch noch so ein  Backpfeifengesicht!

Translation: “His manners are so annoying, and on the top of it he has a face I’d really like to slap.”

4) Nervensäge

If someone calls you a Nervensäge, it’s an insult to be worn with pride, and another prize to add to your lexicon of vulgarity. A fusion of the words Nerven (nerves) and Säge (saw), the term describes someone who annoys or irritates you, or literally someone who “cuts” through your nerves. Often aimed at siblings or close friends, Nervensäge is a relatively harmless, if not creative, insult. An English equivalent might be a “pain in the neck” or someone who is “wearing on your nerves”.

Fun fact: In German, the 1996 film The Cable Guy was translated as Cable Guy – Die Nervensäge. Is this dark comedy worth a rewatch? Gymglish says “maybe”.

Example: Er hat mir heute Morgen schon 4 Mal die gleiche Frage gestellt, diese Nervensäge.

Translation: He has asked me the same question 4 times this morning, he’s getting on my nerves. 

5) Arschkriecher

One of the most deeply satisfying curse words out there but maybe not safe for work, Arschkriecher basically translates to a** licker. German speakers use this term to describe someone who kisses up, a sycophant if you will.

Example:  Tobias versucht sich andauernd, bei seinem Chef einzuschleimen. Was für ein Arschkriecher.

Translation: “Tobias is constantly trying to suck up to his boss. What a kiss-ass.”

6) Pissnelke

The word Pissnelke has three distinct meanings: nerd, carnation or piss. What a rich tapestry. In colloquial German, this term is most often used to call somebody a nerd or a jerk. On another note, we highly recommend you subscribe to our online German course Wunderbla: it’s a place where you can really turn into a Pissnelke when it comes to languages.

Fun fact: in some German Länders (regions), Pissnelke is also used as a name for a dandelion, due to its yellow color. In French, this same flower is called pissenlit – a very tempting opportunity to mention our online French course.

Example: Mein Cousin, die Pissnelke, kam an und hat sofort meine Playstation an sich gerissen.

Translation: “My cousin, the jerk, arrived and immediately usurped my Playstation.”

7) Schluckspecht

The art of swearing in Germany is sometimes an abstract one. Especially when somebody calls you a Schluckspecht, or “guzzling woodpecker”. In practical terms, claiming somebody is a Schluckspecht is the German equivalent of a “boozer”, someone who hits the bottle too often. Were you the guzzling woodpecker at the office Christmas party? Let’s not play the blame game, guys, we’re a non-judgmental online language training program.

Fun fact: Schnapsdrossel is a synonym of Schluckspecht, literally a “booze throttle”.

Example: Mein Bruder ist so ein Schluckspecht! Immer muss er uns auf den Familienfeiern blamieren.

Translation: “My brother is such a boozer! He always has to embarrass us at family parties.”

8) Stinkstiefel

Stinkstiefel (literally a “smelly boot”) can be used to shame someone often in a foul mood or grouchy. A “stinker” or “party pooper” in the parlance of our times. How that relates to bad odor and boots, we have no idea, but it’s certainly a choice. A word of advice: steer clear of the Stinkstiefel.

Fun fact: you are halfway through this list.

Example: Unser Chef ist heute wirklich ein Stinkstiefel. Er lässt seine ganze schlechte Laune an uns aus. 

Translation: Our boss is really a stinker today. He lets out his whole bad mood on us. 

9) Arschgeige

If you’re under the impression that someone who doesn’t perform a particular task very well or can’t seem to do anything right, you’re free to call them “butt violin,” or Arschgeige if you want to be German about it. Generally speaking, it can refer to someone who is a complete idiot.

Fun fact: the above curse word hasn’t got anything to do with string instruments.

Example: Er sollte unsere Hausaufgaben pünktlich bei der Lehrerin abgeben und hat es nicht gemacht. Er ist so eine Arschgeige.

Translation: “He was supposed to send our homework to the teacher on time and he didn’t. He’s the biggest idiot.”

10) Lustmolch

This falsy-beautiful swear word literally means “s*x maniac” and is thought to originate from the book Der Strand der Städte, written in 1978 by Jörg Fauser. Lustmolch comes from the words lust which means “desire”, “pleasure”, “fun” and molch which can translate to “newt” or “pig”. This dirty word would most likely translate to “a pervert”.

Example: Recht hat sie, Vater war ein Lustmolch.

Translation: “She is right, father was a dirty old man.”

11) Spargeltarzan

This next insult literally means “asparagus Tarzan”. Yes, we know. But instead of Tarzan, imagine a very tall but skinny man with no muscle. That’s him. The “asparagus tarzan”.

This swear word was first used in the 20th century by a newspaper to describe the footballer Hans “Hannes” Bongartz who was unusually thin for an athlete. 

Fun fact: Tarzan, for one, wouldn’t be described as a spargeltarzan.

Example: Obwohl er groß ist, hat er einen eher schlanken Körperbau und wird von seinen Freunden liebevoll als Spargeltarzan bezeichnet.

Translation: “Despite being tall, he has a rather slim physique and is affectionately referred to as Spargeltarzan by his friends.”

12) Rotzlöffel

If you feel like you could punch your younger sibling in the face because they seem to do everything in their power to get on your nerves and on purpose, we have a tip: swear at them instead. And that’s where our next swear word comes into the picture. Made of the words rotz (“snot”) and löffel (“spoon”), rotzlöffel helps describe a cheeky and disobedient person, in other words, a total brat. 

Fun Fact: this swear word has no relation whatsoever to the cutlery. 

Example: Unser Sohn Timmy ist so ein Rotzlöffel. Er hört nie auf uns und hat immer das letzte Wort.

Translation: “Our son Timmy is such a brat. He never listens to us and always has the last word.”

13) Weichei

The German insult weichei means that someone is “weak” or a “wimp” and literally translates as “soft egg”. This swear word originated during the 80s, a time when men in Germany became more self-conscious. 

Fun Fact: A particularly soft guy could even be called an Oberweichei.

Example: Er hat sich geweigert, die Mutprobe zu machen. Was für ein Weichei!

Translation: “He refused to do the dare. What a wimp.” 

14) Hornochse

Hornochse describes someone who is foolish or who lacks intelligence. In English, we would call this person a “blockhead” or a “nitwit”. Bear in mind Hornochse is a friendly insult (to some extent), so feel free to use it around your pals.

Example: Sie hat sich schon wieder aus dem Auto ausgesperrt, sie ist so ein Hornochse!

Translation: She locked herself out of the car again, she’s such a blockhead!

15) Klugscheißer

Whenever a person can’t stop blurting random facts about everything or can’t stop correcting everything you say, don’t hesitate to call them a Klugscheißer. This insult doesn’t mean you don’t like the person you’re talking about, remember we all have “knows-it-all” friends. 

Fun Fact: as vulgar as Klugscheißer sounds, it’s actually a very common insult. 

Example: Ich kann keinen Satz sagen, ohne dass du mich verbesserst. Warum musst du immer so ein Klugscheißer sein?

Translation: “I can’t say one sentence without you correcting me, why do you always need to be such a know-it-all.”

S****** that felt good! We don’t know about you, but we feel more alive than ever. Dying to learn more about Germans and/or insults? Fret not, we’ve got you covered with Wunderbla, fun and personalized online German lessons to have you learn the ins and outs of German culture in just 10 minutes per day.

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