German Slang Words


(Image via Corporate Traveller)

Lina Braun, Writer

Every language has its own set of unique slang words, even German! Here are some words, Germans often use. Before you read them, you should know that these slang words are not that bad and that the English translation could have a more offensive meaning than the German version. 


  • Alter!/Alda!/Alta!


“Alter!” or “Alda!” or “Alta!”  can be used to express surprise, or to informally greet someone, as a word for swearing or as an interjection. It’s a shortened version of the term, “Alter Schwede” which translates to old Swedish man in English. You can use it for example in a sentence like “Alter, was geht ab?”, which is “Man, what’s going on?” or “Alter, mach doch!”, which is “Hey, get on with it!” “Alter!” means something like the word “dude”.


  • Geil


“Geil” is a word used to describe anything you feel is cool or tasty. But it’s also an odd word because “geil” technically means, well…horny. But Germans don’t think of it in that context when they use it. 

You’ll often hear “geil” in sentences like “Man, das Essen war so geil!”, which is “Man, the food was amazing!” or “Ich habe ein geiles Restaurant gefunden!”, which means “I found a really cool restaurant!”


  • Scheiße


“Scheiß-/Scheiße” (literally, sh–, crap, damn) is a really ubiquitous word. It is important to know that the German and English versions of the s-word are not always equal. Its use in German is frequently closer to English “Damn!” or “Dammit!” To say “This town really sucks,” you could say: “Diese Stadt ist echt scheiße.” You’ll often hear “Ist mir doch scheißegal,” which is “I don’t care about it!” or “Ich scheiß’ d’rauf!”, which means “I don’t give a damn about that!” or just “Scheiße”, if something just sucks. 


  • Assi


“Assi” is short for asozial which is closely related to redneck or trailer trash in American English, although it doesn’t quite conjure the same image. An Assi is someone who is uneducated, unemployed, from a low-income are, and spends their evenings drinking or doing drugs. 


  • Jein/Jain


“Jein” or “Jain” is a mix of the words “Ja” for yes and “Nein” for no. Germans often use this word to describe when something isn’t clear cut, or they haven’t yet made a decision. 


  • Verarschen


“Verarschen” is a great word to express when someone is messing you around or joking with somebody. This can be used in a light-hearted way like, “Ich verarsche dich nur” can be said like “I’m just joking with you”. Or if you were to say, “Verarschen kann ich mich selber!” you’d be sarcastically saying “Are you kidding me?”. Or if you want to take a more serious standpoint you could say, “Willst du mich verarschen?” (Are you messing with me?) when you feel that someone is doing something wrong to you. 


  • Mach’s gut


Rather than say “Auf Wiedersehen!” or “goodbye,” use the German slang phrase “Mach’s Gut.” This is a less formal way of saying goodbye, which is literally translated to “make it good.” However, it means something along the lines of “have a good one.”

Hopefully you’ll get a lot of use out of these German slang words. 

Let’s go, Amis.