Top 10 famous German loanwords

history & culture

“Ich bin ein Berliner”. This quotation by John F. Kennedy was part of one of the most notable speeches of the Cold War era. An easy phrase in German, that everybody understands. The fact that he was literally saying that he was a doughnut from Berlin only reinforced the statement. Throughout history, Germans have played an important role in literature, philosophy, politics and science. Many words in English have their origin in German. The word loanword itself is derived from the German Lehnwort. But it’s not famous enough to enter the next list of ten famous German loanwords.

Top 10 famous German loanwords

  1. Sturm und Drang – storm and stress; turmoil
  2. Leitmotiv – guiding motif, a short, constantly recurring musical phrase
  3. Blitzkrieg – lightning war, a military doctrine
  4. Schadenfreude – pleasure derived from the misfortune of others
  5. Gestalt – shape, Gestalt refers to a concept of ‘wholeness’.
  6. Kitsch – worthless, a style of mass-produced art or design
  7. Wunderkind – a child prodigy
  8. Zeitgeist – spirit of the age, Zeitgeist refes to a dominant school of thought which typifies and influences the culture of a period
  9. Weltschmerz – world-pain, the feeling that physical reality can never satisfy the demands of the mind
  10. Pretzel – baked food made from dough

Very useful when visiting Germany Langenscheidt Standard Dictionary German: German – English / English – German. 130,000 references (English and German Edition)