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4 Ways To Say ‘Nonsense’ In German Posted by on Apr 26, 2021 in Language

Guten Tag! Today’s post is about die Rede (speech), something we have touched upon before in this post, where I explained the difference between sagen, reden, sprechen, and other words meaning ‘to talk’ or ‘to speak’. Today’s post is more about the contents of that speech – in particular, 4 ways to say nonsense in German. Note that they are all fairly similar in meaning and use, but I will explain the words individually, and include example sentences for each!

4 Ways To Say ‘Nonsense’ In German

Quatsch

nonsense

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

From the verb quatschen, meaning ‘to talk rubbish’, Quatsch is the first of our four words meaning ‘nonsense’. You can either use it as an interjection (‘Ach, Quatsch, das macht nichts!’ – ‘Oh, nonsense, that doesn’t matter!’), or to say that someone is speaking nonsense (‘Er redet nur Quatsch’ – ‘All he talks is rubbish’).

Papperlapapp

nonsense

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

This is an interjection used in speech to dismiss what someone is saying as nonsense, rubbish, false, etc., or to otherwise make out that what’s being said is no big deal:

‘Der Arzt sagt, du sollst dich ausruhen.’
‘Ach, papperlapapp, mir geht’s gut!’

‘The doctor says you should rest.’
‘Oh, nonsense, I’m fine.’

Wischiwaschi

nonsense

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

This can be likened to the English ‘drivel’ referring to talk that goes on and on, but doesn’t make sense, or have any real meaning. It’s often translated as ‘wishy-washy’. However, whilst the English term wishy-washy is an adjective (something is wishy-washy), in German Wischiwaschi can also be a noun, referring to the talk itself:

‘Das war alles bloß Wischiwaschi’
‘That was all just nonsense’

Larifari

nonsense

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Similarly to Wischiwaschi, Larifari refers to talk that is nonsensical, silly, or otherwise empty, like when you have a very surface-level conversation with someone, not talking about anything of importance. It can be an adjective: ‘etwas larifari machen’ means ‘to do something in a superficial or careless way’, but it can also be a noun, as below:

Warst du bereits in einer Situation, in der jemand nur Larifari geredet hat?
Have you ever been in a situation where someone’s been talking pure nonsense?’

Note that all of these words are colloquial/informal, and are best used with people you know, rather than in a formal setting.

The ‘normal’ word for nonsense in German, by the way, is der Unsinn!

I hope this has been useful! Let me know if you can think of any more ‘nonsense’ words (unusual or ordinary!) by leaving a comment in the comment box below. 🙂

Bis bald
Constanze

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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.


Comments:

  1. Bron:

    Is Quatsch another one?

    • Constanze:

      @Bron Haha yep, that’s probably the most common one! 🙂

  2. Bron:

    Oops it’s already there!


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