10 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 Hans Gruber and Marlene Dietrich for f(*&’s sake. You’ve come to the right place – a niche e-learning language blog banking posts for SEO and entertainment purposes.

When learning a new language, studying grammar, conjugation and pronunciation are usually at the top of every learner’s list. But more often than not, these same learners will ditch boring grammar books for swear words at the first opportunity and we can hardly blame them. Albeit educational, this post is dedicated to all the language learners yearning for a bit of vulgarity. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into a list of ten colorful swear words the German language has to offer. Sorry in advance, we really didn’t mean it.

Warmduscher

Literally “warm showerer”, this poetic curse describes a male who only takes warm showers because he is too much of a wimp to take an ice-cold one. In other words, Warmduscher describes a cowardly or weak person who always chooses the easy way out and who isn’t “enough of a man”. “Wuss” would probably be the most appropriate translation. Talk about toxic masculinity… 

Fun fact: the word stems from a German myth whereby taking a cold shower is considered masculine. Useful tip: this article is written by a woman.

Einzeller

A German expert such as yourself is most probably capable of getting the gist of this next insult. Literally “one celler” or “single-cell organism”, Einzeller is an effective way of describing someone s stupid or simply lacking brain cells.

Fun fact: Einzeller is probably the least offensive word on this list.

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. 

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.

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.

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”.

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.

Fun fact: if you feel uncomfortable using this word, try going for its less vulgar equivalent der Speichellecker, literally “spit-licker”. Expect to be showered in kudos for your restraint.

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.

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”.

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: This list is nearly over.

Bonus: 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.

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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