Words That Sound Dirty in German, but Aren’t

I have wanted to make this video for a very long time. I teach German at a high school in the United States. Every year there are certain words that the students come across and they have to pause for a moment. These are some of my favorite words in German that sound dirty to English speakers, but aren’t. Let’s start with the mild ones.

Fahrt ≠ fart

A: Wie kommen wir zum Zoo?
B: Fahrt durch den Park!
A: How is that going to help? My flatulence isn’t going to get me to the zoo.

There are a ton of words in German that have “Fahrt” in them. The first time my students encounter it is when we learn the conjugation of “fahren”. It gets even more fun with the imperative in German 1 and I give the example sentence of “Fahrt durch den Park!” Tee hee. He said “fart”. It isn’t just the ihr form of the verb fahren, however.

Einfahrt –

Ausfahrt –

Schifffahrt –

Gute Fahrt! –
Have a nice trip!

sechs ≠ sex

A: What is between fear and sex, Mr. Freud?
B: Fünf!
A: eins, zwei, drei, vier, fünf, sechs, sechsundsechzig, sechshundertsechsundsechzig, sechstausendsechshundertsechsundsechzig

There is so much sechs in German. You can’t even count in German without it becoming sechs-y. 😉

der Krapfen ≠ crap

A: Was isst du da?

B: Krapfen.

A: Ist es wirklich so schlecht? Krapfen?

From fornication to defecation, this post has it all. This jelly-filled doughnut is called different names in different places, but my favorite is Krapfen for obvious reasons.

der Schlitten, der Schlittschuh, der Schritt (das Schrittchen) ≠ sh**

A: Was machst du danach?

B: Ich laufe Schlittschuh.

A: Wie macht man das?

B: Einfach ein Schritt nach dem anderen. Wenn man muss, kann man Schrittchen machen. Dann geht man langsamer.

A: Schlitten, Schlittschuh, Schritt and Schrittchen. I feel like you are trying to say something without really saying something.
What are you doing?

There are lots of words in German that are just one letter away from being just all around crappy words. These are just a few, but there are a ton of others. Schlitten is a sled or sleigh. Don’t forget the “L”. SchLitten.

What happens if you are a dog owner and you don’t watch your step in the backyard? Schlittschuh. In German, however, this is an ice skate.

Once you have literally stepped in it in the backyard, every step you take is Schritt, but in German all steps are Schritte. You can even take a little step and call it a Schrittchen, which sounds like you are taking a baby poop. 🙂

damit ≠ dammit or damnit

A: Hey, was machst du mit dem Kuli?

B: Ich schreibe damit.

A: Woah. No need to get angry about it. I was just asking a simple question.

B: No… damit means “with that” or “with it”.

der Koch ≠ nickname for a rooster… among other things

A: Mein Koch ist in der Küche.

B: What? How did you even detach it? You know what, I don’t even want to know.

A: Mein Koch is my cook. My cook is in the kitchen.

What I find most entertaining about this word is that there are families in America with the last name Koch and every American who has ever encountered this name has had the internal struggle of how to say this name. I usually go with the German pronunciation, but you will sometimes hear people pronounce it as “cock”, even some of the people with this last name pronounce it like this. I find it even weirder, however, that some people with this last name pronounce it as “cook”, which is the translation of the last name, but not at all how anyone who paid any attention would pronounce it.

die Mannschaft (Mannschaften) ≠ man shaft

A: Ich spiele jeden Tag mit meiner Mannschaft.

B: Eww. Gross. I did not need to know that.

A: What? How else are we going to make it to the championship? We have to practice.

Keeping with the phallic direction of this video, the word Mannschaft always gets a few giggles in German classes. The fact that it is a feminine noun also gets a few side glances amongst friends.

dick ≠ another phallic word

A: Du bist dick.

B: What’d you call me?

A: Fat.

B: What? I thought you said “dick”.

A: Yep. Dick is fat.

B: TMI, dude. TMI.

This one made me laugh the first time I was in Germany. I was at KaDeWe in Berlin and saw a shelf full of packages labeled with “Super Dickmann’s”. I thought it was the weirdest name for a superhero ever. Then last year the internet introduced me to the show from Denmark called “John Dillermand”. These two things are not related. “Dick” is just the German word for fat.

die Dickmilch ≠ what kind of milk?

A: *trinkt Milch. Blech. Das ist Dickmilch.

B: What kind of milk is that? Where would you even buy that?

A: Dickmilch isn’t milk that you drink. It is milk that has been fermented.

B: Why is it called “Dickmilch”?

A: I just told you that “dick” means “fat”. It also happens to mean “thick”. When milk ferments, it gets thick. Dickmilch just describes what it is. Thick milk.

das Ass, aß ≠ ass

A: *kaut ein Stück Papier

B: Was hat er gemacht?

C: Er aß ein Ass.

B: Er aß ein Ass?

The past tense of the verb “essen” is “aß” and the playing card with an A on it is called an “Ass”. Now the next time you are playing poker and you just need an ace, to finish your full house, you can say,

Komm schon… Zeig mir das Ass.

das Fach (Fächer) ≠ f***

A: Ich hasse dieses Fach. Und das ist ein Fakt.

B: Fach? Fakt? Are you allowed to say that in school?

A: Sure. There are lots of “Fächer” in school. And without “Fakten” the whole system falls apart.

der Fakt (Fakten) ≠ f***

Sean Connery: I’ll take four letter F-words for $400, Alex.

Alex Trabek: Ok, Mr. Connery. The answer is “a subject in a German school”.

Sean Connery: Fach.

Alex Trabek: You need to phrase it in the form of a question.

Sean Connery: That’s not what your mother said last night.

Alex Trabek: Whatever. Let’s just go on to the next question. The answer is “the German opposite of the falsehood”.

Sean Connery: WTF?

Alex Trabek: Could you repeat your answer, Mr. Connery? I don’t think I heard that right.

Sean Connery: WTF? What’s the Fakt? The Fakt is “the German opposite of the falsehood”.

My students never have a problem remembering the word for a subject in German. Fach is a difficult word to forget. One that sounds even closer to the dirtiest of all dirty words is Fakt. Try saying the following three times fast.
Fach, Fakt, Fächer, Fakten x 3

der Muckefuck ≠ I know how to read. I see it.

A: Dieser Kaffee schmeckt mir gar nicht.

B: Das ist kein Kaffee. Das ist Muckefuck.

A: What did you call me?

B: No. The drink. It is called “Muckefuck”. It isn’t real coffee. It is a coffee substitute made from barley malt

Apparently it was pretty popular in East Germany and was considered like a kids’ coffee, because it didn’t have caffeine. Honestly if someone tries to replace my coffee with a decaffeinated coffee substitute, you might hear me say Muckefuck, too.