German, Language

“Teeth meat” and “Wash street”: Some New German Words

Here are some new German words I’ve recently discovered, and I want to share them with you to get your linguistic taste buds tingling. If you’re learning German, I hope you can learn a word or two from this post. And if not, then I hope you enjoy the post anyway and can still enjoy the logic of the German language.



literal: house arrest

English: grounded

Now, in English, people can indeed by under house arrest. But it means something quite serious. In German, I don’t actually know if Hausarrest is used for the kind of serious matters if somebody has broken the law or something, but the funny thing in German is that even children can be under Hausarrest – or, in English, they can be grounded. It sounds way more serious in German if a child is put under house arrest because they did something wrong!



literal: teeth meat/flesh

English: gum

Ew. Ew ew ew. The gum in our mouths is literally known as “teeth meat” in German, or “teeth flesh”, which doesn’t really help either. I mean, I guess it’s not wrong – it’s part of our body in which our teeth are, but, geez, why so literal, German? (Just checked what “gum disease” is in German – Zahnfleischerkrankung. Ugh.)



literal: elbow society

English: dog-eat-dog society/world

I told Tim about this one when I learnt the word Ellbogengesellschaft, how I found it interesting that the Germans use it in terms of barging each other with their elbows to get somewhere. A bit like when you’re in the supermarket here in Germany and the second till opens and everybody barges each other to get to the newly opened till first. He said he actually found the English way really over the top and aggressive because we literally talk about us all being dogs and that we eat other to get somewhere. YOU GUYS SAY TEETH MEAT OK SO SHUT UP!



English: gusts

I like this word not because of any literal translations, but how the singular word is just . That’s it. Like a German ghost trying to scare someone. I’ve only ever heard this word in a weather forecast, so I’m not 100% sure if Germans would use this in everyday conversation, but I did have a chuckle when I saw it. It’s just so small compared to the majority of huge German words.



Literal: health spa shadow

English: a person at a health spa with whom one develops a relationship with (yes, you read that correctly)

This is great. The Germans literally have a word for such a specific thing – when you go to a health spa or resort (which I would say is very German in itself) and then have an admirer there. I don’t know the exactly details of how far this relationship must go, but if it were to ever happen – the Germans have a word for it!



Literal: wash street

English: car wash

The Germans literally go to a ‘wash street’ which they drive through to have their cars washed. I mean, it makes sense, right? In a way it’s like a street or road because you drive through it, and your car gets washed whilst you drive down the (often very small) road/street. Quite a nice little word!

God, I was terrified when I was little. Image credit: — Peter Schmal ( – Subject to CC 2.0 License.

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