The German language is famous for stringing short words together to make long words, sometimes really long words.  Even Germans find it occasionally ridiculous.  But it does make it a bit easier for someone just learning the language to puzzle out the meanings of unknown words.  Unfortunately, as in English, sometimes it’s not so obvious.  Here is a list of my favorite compound German words, along with a literal translation of each part.  See if you can guess what they mean.

German Word ……………..Literal Translation

Meerschweinchen ………….. ocean + pig + diminutive ending

Schnurrbart …………………..purr or line/cord + beard

Schneebesen …………………..snow + broom

Wackelpudding……………….. bounce/jiggle + pudding

Hörnchen ……………………….horn + diminutive ending

Eichhörnchen …………………red + horn + diminutive ending

Wasserstoff …………………….water + material/matter/stuff

Trinkgeld ……………………….drink + money

Glühbirne ………………………glow + pear

Have you made your best guesses?  Click here to see the answers.

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