German Loan Words

German Loan Words

This is a list of German expressions used in English; some are relatively common (e.g. hamburger), but most are comparatively rare. In many cases the loanword has assumed a meaning substantially different from its German forebear.

English and German both are West Germanic languages, though their relationship has been obscured by the lexical influence of Old Norse and Norman French (as a consequence of the Norman conquest of England in 1066) on English as well as the High German consonant shift. In recent years, however, many English words have been borrowed directly from German. Typically, English spellings of German loanwords suppress any umlauts (the superscript, double-dot diacritic in Ä, Ö, Ü, ä, ö and ü) of the original word or replace the umlaut letters with Ae, Oe, Ue, ae, oe, ue, respectively (as is done commonly in German speaking countries when the umlaut is not available; the origin of the umlaut was a superscript E).

German words have been incorporated into English usage for many reasons:

  • German cultural artefacts, especially foods, have spread to English-speaking nations and often are identified either by their original German names or by German-sounding English names
  • Developments and discoveries in German-speaking nations in science, scholarship, and classical music have led to German words for new concepts, which have been adopted into English: for example the words doppelgänger and angst in psychology.
  • Discussion of German history and culture requires some German words.
  • Some German words are used in English narrative to identify that the subject expressed is in German, e.g. Frau, Reich.

As languages, English and German descend from the common ancestor language West Germanic and further back to Proto-Germanic; because of this, some English words are essentially identical to their German lexical counterparts, either in spelling (Hand, Sand, Finger) or pronunciation (fish = Fisch, mouse = Maus), or both (Arm, Ring); these are excluded from this list.

German common nouns adopted into English are in general not initially capitalised, and the ß is generally changed to ss.

Read more about German Loan Words:  German Terms Commonly Used in English, German Terms Common in English Academic Context, German Terms Mostly Used For Literary Effect, German Terms Rarely Used in English, Quotations

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