German word of the day: Nuscheln

Rebecca Spiess
Rebecca Spiess - [email protected]
German word of the day: Nuscheln
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

If you're having trouble understanding the everyday German you hear spoken on the streets, this may be the culprit.


Today's word describes something we've all done before: muttering. I am often guilty of this, especially when speaking German under high-stress situations.

I'll start to murmur or speak in a lower voice, inadvertently prompting others to ask me to stop with the "Nuscheln." German speakers typically say this when someone is speaking in a way that is hard to understand. 

The word has roots in the German word for nose (Nase) and originally referred to someone speaking in a nasal manner, or through the nose (Näseln).

Now it can apply to anyone who is speaking in an unintelligible way, whether they are speaking nasally or simply not enunciating. 

But luckily I'm not the only marble-mouthed one out there. the German-speaking world boasts such a large variety of dialects, accents and mannerisms that we could all use a reminder to speak a little more clearly. 

The late VW executive Ferdinand Piëch says something in a whisper tone (Nuschelnd) to his wife Ursula.



"Hör auf zu nuscheln! Ich verstehe nichts!"

"Stop mumbling! I can't understand you!"

"Der Moderator nuschelte die ganze Zeit. Ich weiß nicht einmal, wer gewonnen hat." 

"The presenter was muttering the whole time. I don't even know who won." 


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