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The best words in Austrian German

The best words in Austrian German
A Schanigarten in Vienna. Photo: By KF (Transfered by Fg68at) - Original uploaded on en.wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11786262
Austrian German has several unique words, many of which even Germans may not have heard of. Here are some of the best.

Arriving in Austria with your High German For Dummies book under your arm, you might be surprised at some of the prominent differences between the German spoken in Germany and that you’ll hear south of the border. 

For German speakers, the differences will be particularly different for those from the north and west of the country, while Bavarians are more than likely to get at least some of it (or at least decipher the accent). 

We love delving into language differences. The following report is an in depth discussion of the differences between Austrian German and German German. 

How to speak Austrian: These are the major differences between Austrian and High German

But if you just want a list of some of the best Austrian German words, then you’ve come to the right place!

Baba

If you feel like a change from the German Auf Wiedersehen or Tschüss (goodbye), try the Austrian Bussi Baba, which translates to “kisses, bye”. 

While more and more younger people are using Tschüss, ciao or even bye bye, Bussi Baba – or even just Baba – is the traditional Austrian way to say goodbye. 

While we thoroughly recommend it as a way of demonstrating your integration, it’s maybe not one to try out on your boss.

Die Oaschkoatn (The Asscard)

Die Oaschkoatn (Arschkarte – or ‘arse card’) is a slang word used to describe someone drawing the short straw – “die Arschkarte bekommen”, or when a footballer is shown the red card. 

The origin of the word is thought to come from the 1970’s, when many referees kept the red cards in their back pocket, and the yellow cards in their breast pocket, as the two cards were hard to tell apart on black and white TV. 

The term is still used in Austrian football commentary.

An example of how red and yellow cards look in black and white TV. Photo: Wikicommons

Narrisch

Translating to foolish, mad or insane, Narrisch from the word Narren, meaning fool. 

Fasching, or carnival, is traditionally a time to dress up and be Narrisch.

Watsche

The word Watsche refers to a playful slap or smack. The term can also be used with regard to children, i.e. in a similar fashion to spanking. 

The more German word is Ohrfeige. If someone asks you “Wüs’d a Watschen?”, politely decline.

Mostschädel

Most is the Austrian word for a young apple or pear wine, which is fermented in the process of becoming cider – but is consumed before it gets there. 

This is popular in the south western corner of the country, which is probably why it’s called the “Mostviertel” (most quarter). 

Given that it can be stronger and more unpredictable than traditional wines – and the fact that it’s occasionally consumed at breakfast – the drink is notoriously potent. 

This probably also explains the insult Mostschädel, which translates to ‘Most skull’ and means being blackout drunk. 

Beisl

Beisl, meaning pub, is thought to originate from the Yiddish word Bajiss, meaning house. Beisls evolved in the 18th century and offer local Austrian specialities. 

They can be compared to trattoria in Italy or Kneipe in Germany. 

A Beisl – pub – in Vienna. Von Foto: Wienwiki / Vindobohann, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32327030

Schanigarten

Like Kindergarten, Gastgärten and Biergarten, Schanigarten is yet another German word featuring ‘Garten’ (garden) which has nothing to do with a garden at all. 

A Schanigarten is not a garden at all but refers to the tables and chairs set up on the pavement outside cafes and bars.

Unlike normal beer gardens, the customers sit on public property. 

Originally, Schanigärten referred only to the area outside Viennese coffee houses, but it is now used in other parts of Austria for restaurants and pubs too. 

The Schanigarten season usually begins in mid-March, depending on the weather.

Ungustl

Popular in eastern Austria and Vienna, an Ungustl is someone – usually a man – who is generally repulsive, horrible and disgusting. 

It’s thought to come from the word ungustiös, meaning unappetising.

Grindig

While Ungustl might describe a repulsive individual, grindig refers to any other form of repulsive sight, smell or idea. 

The Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung gives several examples including the smell of a factory, a graphic scene in a film or a particularly shabby looking person. 

The word comes from the word Grind, which refers to a scab or wound – a sight which most people would find grindig. 

Sackerl

Sackerl means bag in Austrian. 

If you ask for a Tüte (shopping bag in German) to take your goods home from the supermarket in Austria, you will be met with a blank stare. 

In Austria a Tüte is an ice cream cone. What you want is a Sackerl.

Jausn

While in German the English word ‘snack’ (which itself comes from Dutch) has been adopted and used widely, in Austria you use the word Jausn to describe a small meal that you have between other meals.

From Käsekrainer to Apfelradln, Austria has a great variety of Jausn – so be sure to use the right word when asking for one.

A Käsekrainer – cheese sausage – on a plate. Von Kobako – photo taken by Kobako, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=790301

Marillen, Paradeiser, Erdapfel

In Austria apricots are called Marillen, in Germany, Aprikosen. The Austrian word has its origins in the Slavic languages. There are many differences in names for food in Austria and Germany. Tomatoes are not Tomaten, but Paradeiser.

Poetically, rather than the humble Kartoffel (potato), Austria has the Erdapfel (earth apple). Cauliflower, which is Karfiol in Austria and  Blumenkohl in Germany.

Have we missed something? Is there an Austrian German word that you just love? Let us know!


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