German Language Blog

4 ‘Untranslatable’ German Summer Words! Posted by on Sep 4, 2019 in Language

Guten Tag! As the summer draws to a close I thought it would be fun to see what words and phrases are used in German to describe summer weather, as there are several that are ‘untranslatable’ – ie. unique to the German language! Of course, these words can really be used at any time of year! So let’s get started.


Image via Pixabay

Urlaubsreif literally means ‘holiday ripe’ (der Urlaub + reif) and describes that feeling when you’ve worked hard for a long period of time and are really, really in need of a holiday! You would use this word simply by saying “Ich bin urlaubsreif” – “I am holiday-ripe”.

Die Affenhitze

Image via Pixabay

In English when it’s a really hot day you’d say things like ‘sweltering heat’ and ‘boiling weather’. In German, this kind of extreme, hot weather is known as die Affenhitze: ‘the monkey heat’ (der Affe + die Hitze). What the heat has to do with monkeys is uncertain; it is presumed because monkeys generally live in hot climates (if anyone knows otherwise, feel free to leave the answer in a comment!). So the next time it’s unbearably hot outside, you are not just experiencing die Hitze (heat) – you are experiencing die Affenhitze!

Das Kaiserwetter

Literally ‘emperor weather’ (der Kaiser + das Wetter), this word refers to extremely clear, beautiful weather: blue, cloudless skies, and bright sunshine. This word originated with Austrian Kaiser (Emperor) Franz Josef I at the turn of the 20th century. His birthday was 18th August, and it was apparently always sonnig (sunny) on that day. It also references another Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, who it was said only attended open-air events when the weather was good.

das/die Kissenkühlelabsal

Image via Pixabay

You know that feeling when you’re lying in bed, it’s gotten too hot, and so you turn the pillow over to feel the cool side on your face? In German, there is a word for that feeling! Kissenkühlelabsal means ‘pillow cool refreshment’ and refers to the refreshing feeling of placing your face on the cool side of the pillow on a hot night. Broken down, the word is: das Kissen (the pillow), die Kühle (coolness), das/die Labsal (refreshment). This is a feeling we can all appreciate, I’m sure!

Want more weather-related posts? Try these: Sauregurkenzeit, Altweibersommer, Unwetter, Frau Hölle.

Bis bald (see you soon)!

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. Allan Mahnke:

    Another great post! There is an expression, coined by Neil Simon in his play “Biloxi Blues” describing the summer heat in Mississippi: “It’s Africa Hot!” This covers the German expression die Affenhitze rather nicely, even if it hasn’t yet become proverbial. It is in our family.

  2. Joyce Constantine:

    Danke fur deine interessant Geschichte von Ludwig II von Bavaria

  3. Ken Overbay-Baker:

    “Die Affenhitze” somewhat reminds me of the English expression “the dog days of summer”.