“Musician bones” and “muscle hangovers”: Fun ways to say stuff about the body in German

To start off this post, I think it’s worth saying a little thank you to the Facebook page “Learn useless German” for sharing one of my language-related blogs – much appreciated!

Anyway, in the meantime I’ve been writing down funny words and phrases I’ve been learning (or reminded about), and I noticed a trend with certain words: their link to the human body. Sounds gruesome, but it’s not as gory as you may think, so don’t worry. There’s a nice link here, too, to the old almond operation as I mentioned in one of my previous blogs.

Here are six German words to do with the human body that I quite enjoy. I hope you enjoy them too!

Literally: foot mushroom (or foot fungi)
Translation: athlete’s foot

Getting the gross over and done with, I saw this in the window of a pharmacy. It made me realise how strange and not clear our way of saying it actually is, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the idea of a foot mushroom.

Literally: breast wart
Translation: nipple

OK, I know – generally, the Germans nowadays just say “Nippel” for a nipple, but you can’t help laughing at the word “breast wart” for a nipple. Say what you see, I guess!

Literally: goose skin
Translation: goosebumps

When I first heard this word in German, I was a little bit put off. Why would Germans give that skin sensation such a name as goose skin? After a bit of a laugh, I then realised we also do it, just with bumps instead of skin. This seems to happen a lot – I learn a word, laugh at how ridiculous it is, then realise our way of saying it is similar or even exactly the same…

Translation: fringe

There’s not really a literal translation for this one, because it’s pretty obvious what it looks like. The word for “fringe” in German is “Pony”. I had to laugh at that one. “I need a haircut, my Pony is getting long!”. Either you find that funny, too, or I’m just really sad. Probably the latter.

Literally: musician bone
Translation: funny bone

This is a beautiful word I recently learnt when a friend hit his elbow and I wanted to ask him if it was his funny bone. My guess translation of “lustiger Knochen” (the literal translation of “funny bone”) was shot down immediately by confusion. And then it turns out the Germans say “Musikantenknochen”, as in, “Musician bone”. I’m not sure why it’s that, but it has definitely become one of my favourite words.

Literally: muscle hangover
Translation: muscle ache (after doing exercise or something else strenuous)
I’ve known this one for ages, but thought it fits well here. Whenever you do some exercise and wake up the next morning aching, the Germans would say you have muscle hangover. It kind of makes it sound like a bad thing like having had a lot to drink and suffering the next day, saying (not meaning) you’re never touching alcohol again, but I guess this kind of hangover is probably a good thing showing you’ve done some good exercise!

And to end, here are a few photos from yesterday’s walking trip – it’s typical here in Germany to go for long walks on Vatertag/Männertag (Father’s Day or “Men Day”, as some people call it) with beer. So we did! We took the train to Hofheim and walked through the forest to Kelkheim and back. And there’s definitely a bit of muscle hangover going on today.

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