The German language is famous for having some of the most interesting vocabulary in the world. It’s a meme that for any concept you can think of, there’s some German word that describes it exactly. Take, for example, this tweet.
There must be a German word for “The urge, when someone notes something they dislike, to immediately do or say the thing they dislike, ostensibly “jokingly,” even though you know if will make you look like a complete and unmitigated asshole, and they will hate you for it.”
— John Scalzi (@scalzi) May 6, 2020
It isn’t true though that there’s a German word for everything, because that would imply infinite words. And for every real, very specific German word, it’s easy enough to make up ones that can seem pretty convincing. Which is what we did! And it’s up to you to separate the authentic from the fake in our long German words quiz.
Before we start, we want to briefly touch on why German is unique in its ability to create words (at least compared to English, Spanish and other languages widely spoken in the West). German has the ability to build compound words much more easily than English. Let’s take a German word you’re probably familiar with: Sauerkraut. This simply combines the German word for “sour” (sauer) with one of the German words for cabbage (Kraut). Had this dish been invented by an English speaker, it would probably be called “sour cabbage,” two words, but German allows for it to become one. We go into this in a lot more detail elsewhere, but it’s worth keeping it in mind as you take this quiz. And for each word — real or fake — we show you how it breaks down into smaller German pieces.