Did you ever speak with Germans and wondered what they wanted to tell you when they say “Handy”, “Boxen” or “Beamer”? If you still did not get any answer to this question, you came to the right place! In this article, I will unearth the true meaning of 8 common “Denglish” words used in German. 

What is Denglish?

The world is subject to globalization. And since English is the lingua franca of the globalized world, it is not surprising that there are more and more English words being used in many languages of the globe.

This development does not stop at the borders of German-speaking countries. And so “googeln wir” if we look for something online or “wir liken einen Post” on social media. Also, we call our newborns baby instead of the old school version “das Neugeborene” and go to a “Meeting” instead of a “Treffen”.

These English words above are very clear and therefore, most of the people will not have any problems when hearing them.

However, you should not be celebrating this success too soon! – Germans invented a number of “Denglish” words. Yes, the word “Denglish” really exists and it describes the usage of English words that are Germanized. Often this means that we simply take an English word and use it for something completely different as you will see with the following 8 examples. Enjoy!


The meaning of “das Handy”

One of the first Denglish words you most likely meet is “das Handy”. In German, we use this word for expressing “cell phone”. Even though there is a “real German” noun called “das Mobiltelefon”, almost nobody will use it and might look a bit irritated in case you decided using it as it sounds very old-fashioned.


Watching movies with “der Beamer”

When we are studying in school, university or if we want to watch a movie using the overhead projector, we will call this lovely machine “der Beamer”. Obviously, we think that it “beams” the picture to the wall. If this sounds disturbing in your ears or reminds you too much on Star Trek, you could still use the “more German” term “der Tageslichtprojektor” but you should be aware that this could bring you some laughter as nobody uses this word anymore.


Listening to “die Boxen”

When we want to listen to music we need speakers to do so. Germans are practical so they decided to call speakers “die Boxen”. For Germans, this makes sense as they obviously look like boxes. However, you can also say “der Lautsprecher” and with this German version, nobody will even laugh at you as it is still quite common.


What is “public viewing”?

In the last years, there is a new phenomenon which arose during the world cups – “das Public Viewing”. This “Denglish” term describes the live broadcast in a public area. You could also call it “eine öffentliche Direktübertragung” but most likely you will not have to wait for laughter doing so.


The German understanding of “Body Bag”

The messenger bag is an invention of the 90ies and was very much in fashion also in Germany. The German term is “die Kuriertasche” but as you might expect to read in this article, they also decided to find an English way to call it: “das Body Bag”. For Germans, this might sound very logical, as the bag fits around your body. Unfortunately, they did not consider the fact that in English, a body bag is a bag that we use to put in a corpse before it is carted off.


An “Oldtimer” on the streets

Many people associate Germany with the car industry. And so here we go with another “Denglish” word for cars. In German, we call a very old car which is more than 30 years old “der Oldtimer”. In contrast, the same expression in English refers to an old person.


Other examples are “das Mobbing” which means bullying or “der Evergreen” (also der Dauerbrenner, der Oldie) which refers to an oldie instead of plants.

Denglish is everywhere in German

After reading all of these “Denglish” or so-called pseudo-Anglicism words, you broadened your mind! Therefore, the next time you will listen to a German saying a weird “half-English” word, you should not doubt your skills but better ask. As we have learned in this article – you never know what they made up!

Bis bald!



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