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Untranslatable German Words: Der Augenschmaus Posted by on Aug 12, 2019 in Language

Guten Tag! Today I’m bringing you another quirky German word that has no single-word equivalent in the English language. We call these words ‘untranslatable’ (unübersetzbar), even if there are English phrases that convey the same meaning. These ‘untranslatable’ words are fantastic at displaying the efficiency of German compound nouns. Today’s word is der Augenschmaus.

Image via Pixabay

What is the literal translation of der Augenschmaus?

It literally means ‘the eyes feast’. It is made up of the words die Augen (eyes) and der Schmaus, which is an old-fashioned word for ‘feast’.

Here are some other words that describe a feast:

  • das Festmahl
  • das Festessen

And here are a few more words used when talking about food and meals in general:

  • das Essen – meal, food
  • das Gericht – dish
  • der Imbiss – snack/appetiser
  • die Mahlzeit – meal

However, the word Augenschmaus – ‘eyes feast’ – is not always talking about food.

What does der Augenschmaus mean?

Der Augenschmaus is the German word for the phrase ‘a sight for sore eyes’ or, sometimes, ‘a feast for the eyes’. As in English, this is not necessarily used to describe food. Something that is a ‘feast’ for the eyes can be anything that is pleasing to the eye, that makes you feel good when you see it. Examples include eine Person (a person), and die Landschaft (scenery).

Image via Pixabay

But food is, of course, also an Augenschmaus! In German there is a phrase, “Das Auge isst mit” – “The eye eats as well”, meaning a meal is often more appetising if it looks good when presented to you.

Das Auge isst mit! / Image via Pixabay

Alternatives and opposites

An alternative word for der Augenschmaus is die Augenweide.

The opposite to a ‘sight for sore eyes’ is an eyesore. The German word for ‘eyesore’ is der Schandfleck. However, as well as describing things that don’t look good, the word Schandfleck can describe anything that taints an otherwise perfect picture: A single C-grade on a report card full of As could be considered a Schandfleck.

Many think die Windkraftanlage (wind turbine) is a Schandfleck (eyesore). Image via Pixabay.

A feast for the ears?

To describe a beautiful singing voice, a piece of music, or any other, pleasant sound, there is the word der Ohrenschmaus – ‘the ears feast’!

A final observation

Interestingly, the word Schmaus on its own has an entry on Urban Dictionary. However, its meaning is completely different; on Urban Dictionary, a Schmaus is a mixture of the words ‘schmuck’ and ‘mouse’ and describes ‘someone that is small and due to his size he is angry at the world.’. This meaning has nothing to do with the German translation, but it is interesting to see the word used in English slang!

Have you ever heard or used the word Augenschmaus? What would you consider to be an Augenschmaus? How about a Schandfleck?

Bis bald!

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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 love writing about German language and culture. I also work as a group fitness instructor.


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