German Language Blog

German Loanwords in English Pt. 1 Posted by on Mar 23, 2018 in Culture, Language

We have some untranslatable words in German, which we have covered extensively. But there are also words in English that were not translated at all – kept their meaning, spelling but not their pronunciation! Let’s look at and listen to a few of these Lehnwörter (loanwords).

I first give a recording of the word in both languages, then the German definition with my translation, then the Oxford Dictionary’s definition, some comments on differences, and an English translation for the German word. Enjoy this first part!

1. Angst

Image by Darkness at

According to the German Duden

mit Beklemmung, Bedrückung, Erregung einhergehender Gefühlszustand [angesichts einer Gefahr]

(Emotional state associated with anxiety, oppression, agitation [in the face of danger])

According to the Oxford Dictionary

A feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general


While the anxiety is still part of the English definition, it looks like the German definition is much closer to English fear than the English Angst. It looks more like the Oxford definition is more closely related to the German Weltschmerz.

What would an English translation look like?


2. Doppelgänger

Image by Jeremy Keith at under license CC BY 2.0

According to the German Duden

Person, die jemandem zum Verwechseln ähnlich sieht

(Person that looks almost exactly like somebody)

According to the Oxford Dictionary

An apparition or double of a living person


Here, the meaning is pretty much the same. It’s like the English definition is the Doppelgänger of the German definition. It is interesting that even the Umlaut ä stays in English!

What would an English translation look like?


3. Fest

Image by Toa Heftiba at

According to the German Duden

[größere] gesellschaftliche Veranstaltung [in glanzvollem Rahmen]

([Larger] social event [in a glamorous setting])

According to the Oxford Dictionary

A festival or gathering devoted to a particular activity or interest


There are differences! While the German refers more to a party or simply an event, the English is more specifically an event, a festival that pertains to a particular activity.

What would an English translation look like?

Party; Celebration; Event

4. Kindergarten

Image by pan xiaozhen at

According to the German Duden

öffentliche Einrichtung (in einem Raum, einem Gebäude) zur Betreuung und zur Förderung der Entwicklung von Kindern im Vorschulalter

(public institution (in a room, a building) for supervision and promotion of development of preschool-aged children)

According to the Oxford Dictionary

a class or school that prepares children, usually five- or six-year-olds, for the first year of formal education.


Interestingly, there is a different definition for Kindergarten in Britain and Australia; there is is more a nursery school. We are looking at

What would an English translation look like?

Pre-school; Playschool

5. Kaputt

Almost kaput! (Image by James Pond at

Interestingly, the English took off a t here! This may also be the influence of the French word capot. While the word is pronounced quite similarly, the word is not the same.

According to the German Duden

entzwei; defekt; nicht mehr funktionierend

(apart; defective; no longer working)

According to the Oxford Dictionary

Broken and useless; no longer working or effective.


These definitions are pretty much identical!

What would an English translation look like?



I hope you enjoyed this post. Are there more words that come to mind? Is there a word in your language that comes from German and is written (almost) identically? Let me know in the comments below!

Tags: , ,
Keep learning German with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Henry:

    I love reading all of your blog posts! Probably the only subscription I read regularly in my email. But I digress. I want to know why you added the -US suffix to all the German words. Looks like Latin to me. Am I missing something?

  2. Milan Kumar Mallick:

    Very good post and beneficial to nation