Can You Guess What These Long German Words Mean?

By: Ian Fortey
Estimated Completion Time
5 min
Can You Guess What These Long German Words Mean?
Image: lechatnoir/E+/GettyImages

About This Quiz

Like any language, German has grown and evolved over many generations.  From Old High German to Middle High German to Middle Low German and Standard German, it's changed a lot over time. You'd think those changes would be helpful in making the language more clear and concise, but that's not always the case.  In fact, some German words were clearly designed with the opposite idea in mind.

if you fancy yourself a bit of a linguist, or just someone who likes the challenge of stumbling over a 10-syllable word, maybe you have what it takes to nail this quiz. If you're not a native speaker, then it's definitely going to be a challenge.  How long can German words get?  Some have reached over 40 letters long. That could be a whole sentence in some languages.  Heck, even a paragraph.  Figuring out what a word like that means is going to take some skill and maybe even a little luck.  But if you think you have the skills to handle some of these zungenbrechers and get to the bottom of this German kuddelmuddel then take the quiz and prove it!

What on Earth does Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften mean?
A delicate dish made with eggs and cheese
An insurance company that provides legal protection
A military maneuver meant to confuse an enemy
A low-cost kind of patio furniture
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Naturally, this is the plural of Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaft, which is an insurance company providing legal protection. Clearly, this is a valuable word for everyday conversations.

What's going on if you experience torschlusspanik?
Stomach discomfort
Fear of flying
Last-minute panic
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Literally "gate-closing panic", torschlusspanik refers to panic-related to time running out to get things done.

No one wants to deal with Kummerspeck. What is it?
Excess weight from stress eating
An unfortunate skin condition
Excess body hair
An unusual odor
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This translates as "grief bacon." It means you've gained some weight as a result of stress eating and it's probably a useful word in modern times.


If you're a doctor, you may have to know about Betäubungsmittelverschreibungsverordnung. What is it?
An operation or procedure that is voluntary
Facial reconstruction surgery
A method of treating an illness with exercise
Regulation for the prescription of narcotics
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

How this word came to be is anyone's guess, but betäubungsmittelverschreibungsverordnung refers to a regulation that deals with prescribing things like anesthetics or narcotics.

If you're buying steak, you may be concerned with Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz. What is it?
A method of raising cattle without antibiotics
A homemade mix of spices
Law for the delegation of monitoring beef labeling
A technique for cooking beef and vegetables in pastry
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Apparently, this word isn't used very much (surprise!) but it does refer to the laws surrounding cattle and beef labeling.

You're pretty new at your job if you're a Sozialversicherungsfachangestelltenauszubildender. What does it mean?
A social security assistant trainee
An apprentice chef at a family restaurant
An intern working in a visual arts medium
A paperboy
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Sozialversicherungsfachangestelltenauszubildender refers to a trainee assistant social insurance or security broker. The word sounds much more exciting than the job.


There's a lot of repetition in Siebenhundertsiebenundsiebzigtausendsiebenhundertsiebenundsiebzig. What does it mean?
She sells seashells by the seashore.
Seven wives for seven brothers
I scream you scream, we all scream for ice cream.
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Believe it or not, in German you just write out the whole number as one so that, the bigger the number is, the longer the word. This one is 777,777.

Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft may not have ever referred to a real thing, even if the term is technically correct. What does it mean?
A small, omnivorous animal like a squirrel that lives in forests and is usually only seen at sunset.
Association for Subordinate Officials of the Main Maintenance Building of the Danube Steam Shipping Electrical Services
The process of donating food items to charity that do not have a long shelf life and must, therefore, be used right away
A milkshake
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This word allegedly refers to the Association for Subordinate Officials of the Main Maintenance Building of the Danube Steam Shipping Electrical Services. It's only alleged because there's no proof such an association ever existed. This might just be an example of a word that "could" exist, even if what it refers to doesn't.

It's possible you have Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung right now. What is it?
Auto liability insurance
A beloved family pet
A guest room
Shoes you wear indoors
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Sometimes a long German word refers to basically an entire sentence full of ideas. This one is just car insurance.


Even if the word is intimidating, Freundschaftsbezeigungen is a good thing. What is it?
A third date
A short, impromptu vacation
A sweet dessert
A gesture of friendship
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Sometimes you need to show your friends how much you care, and a freundschaftsbezeigungen is a demonstration or token to show that friendship.

You might have a Streichholzschächtelchen in your pocket. What is it?
Loose change
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

How does a little box of matches turn into streichholzschächtelchen? That's either the power of fire or of German compound words.

What's happening if you're experiencing Fingerspitzengefühl?
Finger-tip feeling
Thin sandwiches
Refueling the car
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The term "finger-tip feeling" isn't literal. It refers to an almost intuitive feeling or a kind of empathy with other people.


Frühjahrsmüdigkeit can really bring you down. What is it?
Losing your wallet
Being abandoned by a free
Spring fatigue
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Basically, a way to refer to seasonal affective disorder, spring fatigue is a kind of weariness and depression that you feel as spring begins.

You've probably experienced Fremdschämen a lot. What is it?
Late night hunger
A wandering itch
Contagious yawns
Shame on someone else's behalf
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Fremdschämen is a pretty useful word these days. Think of all the cringe-inducing videos you've seen online and the shame you felt on behalf of those people. That's fremdschämen at work.

No one ever wants to experience Verschlimmbessern, but it happens. What is it?
Rapid onset stomach discomfort after eating
Making things worse as you try to make them better
Waking up just before your alarm goes off
A traffic jam when you're already
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This term is fun in an awkward way because who hasn't experienced a time when they were trying to help out and then somehow made everything worse as a result?


No one should be proud to be a Schattenparker. What does it mean?
A person who follows too close
Someone who breaks dishes
Someone who parks in the shade
A person who lies constantly
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

While the literal translation of this word is "shade parker," what it means is a wimp. A person who parks in the shade is weak and can't handle the real world. You don't want to be a schattenparker, even though it's usually a good idea to actually park in the shade.

Backpfeifengesicht is pretty aggressive. What does it mean?
A face in need of a slap
A traditional wrestling maneuver
A series of vulgar insults
A weapon for hunting
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This isn't the most polite thing in the world but apparently, some people just feel like they need to slap other people in the face and then they made a word to express that.

You might need help to deal with a kuddelmuddel. What is it?
A large meal
A confusing mess
A lawsuit
A runaway pet
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

This word is fun to say, even if what it refers to is not super fun. The word derives its meaning from "dirty linen" and means a jumble, hodgepodge or mess.


Drachenfutter only comes up when you do something wrong. What does it mean?
Overcooked food
Damaged electronics
Dirty laundry
Dragon fodder
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The literal translation is "dragon fodder" but what it actually refers to is a gift you give to your spouse or partner as a kind of apology. So you screwed up and got them this thing to try to make it better.

Everyone has some experience with Splitterfasernackt. What does it mean?
Stark naked
Broken chips in a bag
Overcooked rice
Car troubles
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

It's not too weird to have a single word to refer to being totally naked, even if it's a 5-syllable word that sounds kind of like a kitchen tool.

Sometimes Veröffentlichungsdatum is the kind of thing you need to know. What does it mean?
A recipe for vegetables
Publication date
Song lyrics
The distance from your home to your work
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The publication date of a book is the kind of information you usually gloss over, so maybe that's why it's such a big word in German. It's hard to miss.


Einfühlungsvermögen is something everyone experiences now and then. What is it?
Freezing cold
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Empathy is a pretty commonplace feeling, so maybe it's surprising that the word for it is so hard to wrap your head around.

Sometimes you just want to be Mutterseelenallein. What does it mean?
Finished work
All alone
Eating dinner
On vacation
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The fun part of being all alone in German is that the word is so long you always have something big and bulky to keep you company.

One of the most popular German words that has found its way to English is Schadenfreude. What does it mean?
Eating with reckless abandon
Going shopping with friends
Avoiding the sun at all costs
Taking pleasure in someone else's pain
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

You're not technically supposed to take pleasure in someone else's pain, but every so often you see someone who you really don't like take a fall and you can't help but feel good about it.


Doppelgänger has become a very popular word in English. What does it mean?
Weather radar
A street gang
A twin or duplicate
A cooking pot
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A doppelgänger usually just means a twin or double of some kind though to be very technical, it should also be a supernatural or evil double. So if you see one, try to avoid it. Unless you actually have a twin.

Schreibtischtäter is an extremely dark term. What does it mean?
Desk murderer
Terminal illness
An insult that makes someone cry
Traffic accident
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

The term "desk murderer" sounds a little silly at first glance, but it's quite a disturbing concept. It refers to bureaucrats and state employees who sat at a desk and sanctioned the murder of many people.

If you're arguing with someone, you may have to bust out a Totschlagargument. What is it?
A mutual understanding
An insult
A killer argument
A unique perspective
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

A killer argument is an argument killer. If you're in a heated debated with someone, you can bust out a totschlagargument and immediately shut the whole conversation down. It doesn't even need to be related to the topic at hand, just something so devastating that the other person has no comeback.


You should see the doctor if you have Nasennebenhöhlenentzündung. What is it?
A broken arm
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

You can almost see the relation between Nasennebenhöhlenentzündung and sinusitis with the beginning of the word "nasal" in there, but then it really takes a left turn.

Zusammenzuarbeiten is a word you might use if you and a friend are doing what?
Talking on the phone
Working together
Going on vacation
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

It's always important to cooperate and work together, so maybe it's good that the Germans have such a complex word for doing just that.

Selbstverständlichkeit sounds a little philosophical. What does it mean?
Understanding of life and death
Self-evident truth or fact
Study of dreams
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

It seems a little ironic that selbstverständlichkeit means something self-evident or an obvious fact when that meaning itself is far from obvious or self-evident.


You may want to call a Bezirksschornsteinfegermeister before Christmas, just in case. What does it mean?
Small town cake baker
Non-union auto mechanic
Head district chimney sweep
Licensed dog groomer
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Outside of Mary Poppins, there's probably not much need to talk about a head district chimney sweep, but if it ever comes up, there's a word for it.

What kind of person would you describe with the word Eigenbrötlerisch?
A recluse or loner
A police officer
A giant
A scientist
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

If you describe someone with the word eigenbrötlerisch, you're describing someone who definitely doesn't want a lot of company and spends a lot of time alone, like a recluse.

Feuchtfröhlich could be a word you use at a party. What does it mean?
Dinner guests
Merry and drunk
Stuffed with food
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

Feuchtfröhlich is a very unique and unusual term. It does mean merry, happy or jolly, but it's very much related to that feeling being caused by drinking alcohol.


Streicheleinheit is a word that might apply if you have a pet. What does it mean?
A pair of boots
A cupboard for food
A measurement of petting
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

In general, streicheleinheit means to pet or caress, but the literal translation is a unit of petting, so it's somehow supposed to be a measurement of the petting you do. Definitely a thing a cat would pay attention to.

Eierschalensollbruchstellenverursache is a bit of a joke word, and yet you can buy one. What is it?
A tool to create the ideal breaking point in an egg's shell
A set of tiny, individual finger-sized gloves
A car that only sits one person
A brush for cleaning your toothbrush
Correct Answer
Wrong Answer

If there's a point for an eierschalensollbruchstellenverursache, it's to help you crack an egg in such a way that the shell doesn't splinter everywhere. Do you need that? Well, that's up to you.

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