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12 of the most colourful German language insults

The Local Austria
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12 of the most colourful German language insults
Can you handle a cold shower? Photo: Pixabay

From calling someone the name 'Horst' to implying someone is weak for having a hot shower, German-speaking countries have a host of weird insults that are good to know (but better used sparingly!)



Who would think that calling someone a person who likes to take warm showers is an insult? Apparently people in German-speaking countries, where myth has it that taking a cold shower is considered masculine. Nowadays it’s applied to people who may be a bit on the cowardly side; you can also call them a Weichei (soft egg), or a wimp.

READ ALSO: German word of the day - Warmduscher


This Austrian German insult translates literally to something like "raghead" or "tattered skull" and essential means "idiot" or "fool". Not the nicest of insults but good to know nevertheless. 


Backpfeifengesicht includes the words Backe (cheek), Pfeife (whistle) and Gesicht (face). SO at first glance it seems like a strange insult. But a Backpfeife is actually a slang word for a face slap. So Backpfeifengesicht in German-speaking countries refers to a face that's screaming out for a slap because the person is very annoying! You might find Austrians using this term towards politicians, especially when they're caught doing something dodgy, which has often been the case in Austria in recent years. 

READ ALSO: Burgergate - Is the Austrian chancellor doomed after McDonald's outburst?


This insult is more widely used in Austria than other German-speaking countries. Loosely translated as "complete idiot", it's probably best used sparingly unless you want to take the mickey out of yourself. It can be said when you feel you've done something silly like forgetting to stock up on coffee on a Saturday when the shops are closed on Sunday: "Ich bin ein Volltrottel" ("I'm a complete idiot!")

Italian moka pot

Italian moka coffee pot. Photo by Thanos Amoutzias on Unsplash


The closest translation to Klugscheißer is probably “smart arse”, the literal translation is “smart shitter”. This charming word is used to call out a person who just can’t stop correcting you, is mansplaining or who is always blurting out random facts at the most inappropriate times.


This word sounds as annoying as what it implies: a complete brat, or “Bratze.” Such a person can also be called a Rotzlöffel, or a snot spoon.



This one is reserved for someone you find to be a complete idiot. Or a person could say “Ich habe mich zum Vollhorst gemacht” if they feel they have made a fool out of themselves.

In German, the very common male first name “Horst” somehow became synonymous with “fool”. The prefix “voll” means “total” so that a “Vollhorst” is the ultimate idiot. As of late, the equally common male first name “Otto” is following a similar career that “Horst” pioneered. Both these names work as surnames as well, so if you happen to be named “Horst Otto” or “Otto Horst” you will be a Spaßbremse (killjoy, or literally 'fun brake') in no time!


Literally a “pea counter”, this is reserved for someone who focuses on insignificant details rather than the big picture. This pedant is also known (and hated) as Paragraphenreiter, someone who sticks to the script no matter what. It’s about the principle!


Photo: Public Doman Pictures from Pixabay


Literally a hot air gun, this refers to a chatterbox (also dubbed a Labertasche, or babble bag) who talks all the time but just about hot air, or nothing.



If you call someone a “piss carnation”, you are not dubbing them an ugly flower but rather a nerd. Yet if you are picknicking in the German countryside and hear someone point out that they see a bunch of Pissnelke, you are not being followed by a scholarly group, but rather amongst dandelions, the flowers’ colloquial name (normally they are known as Löwenzahn).


This species talks only in a flattering way since he wants something from you. A sweet-talker, he literally is someone who is grating licorice in order to persuade you. More often than not, a Süßholzraspler also happens to be a Schürzenjäger, a womanizer (or more precisely translated, an apron hunter).


Literally a “guzzling woodpecker” this is the German language equivalent of a Boozer. If you switch a few letters, “Schluckspecht” becomes “Speckschlucht”, or a “canyon of bacon”. Okay, the later isn’t an actual German insult, but it sounds like it should be one.


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