German Language Blog

Untranslatable German Words: Nagelmond Posted by on Sep 10, 2015 in Language

Guten Tag! Welcome to another edition of German untranslatable words, dedicated to teaching you quirky German words, their meanings, and how to use them!

Today the word is der Nagelmond.

Der Mond geht auf - 31.03.2010

Photo: alnitak2009 on under CC BY 2.0

What does Nagelmond literally translate to? The German compound noun Nagelmond is made up of the words der Nagel (nail) + der Mond (moon). It therefore literally translates to ‘nail moon’.

What does Nagelmond mean? This is a beautiful word because it gives a rather poetic name to a body part you’ve probably never even noticed before. A Nagelmond is the whitish part at the base of your nail, where your cuticle is. It is called a ‘nail moon’ because of its moon-like shape. Although you might never have noticed before, when you look closely you’ll see your Nagelmond really does look like the top of a moon poking its head out from your cuticle!


Dry cuticles

Photo: epak on under CC BY 2.0


How would you use Nagelmond in a sentence?

Ich habe keine Nagelmonde – bin ich krank??
I don’t have any nail moons – am I ill??

What is the nearest English equivalent to Nagelmond?
There is actually an English translation for Nagelmond – although I’d never heard of it until now, and I have never heard it used anywhere before! This little moon-shaped part of your nail cuticle is called the lunula in English. What does lunula mean? It means ‘little moon’ in Latin. So there is a connection, after all!

Who says German can’t be pretty? I think this word is lovely! What do you think of it? 🙂

Related vocabulary:

Nail – der Nagel
Cuticle – die Nagelhaut
Skin – die Haut
Hangnail – der Niednagel
Hand – die Hand
Finger – der Finger
Manicure – die Maniküre
Pedicure – die Pediküre
Nail polish – der Nagellack
Plaster – das Pflaster

If you liked this post, then be sure to check out some other ‘untranslatable German words’ here on the blog. Here are a few to get you started: die Schnapsidee, der Kulturbeutel, die Gemütlichkeit, die Nervensäge, der Kaffeeklatsch.

Bis bald!

Constanze x

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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. Joseph T. Madawela:

    I THINK it is lovely and smart!

  2. Lawrence:

    Is Nagelmond a word used in day to day German / Bavarian or is it a sleeping word like the English/ Latin word you mention ” Lunula ” ? – iether way it’s cute 😉

    ( there’s a little play on words there if you can spot it !!?)

    Lawrence x