If you’ve had your fill of German terms of endearment and want to learn how to insult someone instead, look no further. Some of these insults are amusingly innocent-sounding, while others are pretty devastating—so let’s hope you don’t wind up on the receiving end of one of those. Here are 30 of the best German insults we could find.
Someone who doesn’t perform a particular task very well can be called a “butt violin,” or arschgeige.
Someone who’s engaged in a pointless task, who can’t concentrate, or has no direction in life can be called a bananenbieger, or “banana bender.”
A “pea counter” is a nitpicker who obsesses over the little details. Similarly, you can call an overly pedantic person who always plays by the rules an ameisentätowierer, or “ant tattooist.”
This word literally translates to “pleasure newt,” which is what you’d call someone who can’t get enough horizontal refreshment (a delightful 19-century slang term for sex).
5. Arsch mit ohren
A “butt with ears”—or, put simply, a complete ignoramus.
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An “evolutionary brake” is an unintelligent person whose very existence on Earth hinders the advancement of the human species, so to speak.
In a similar vein, this word means a “single-cell organism.”
These “trouser-poopers” are cowards. (If you’re looking for a good English word for a coward, try quakebuttock.)
A “driller of thin planks” is someone who takes the easy way out and does the bare minimum.
This imaginative insult translates to “asparagus Tarzan,” and describes someone who is thin and gangly.
A “lump of puke.”
A “hot air gun” is someone who talks too much, but about nothing. You can also call someone a labertasche, or “babble bag.” (An old English insult for someone who talks a lot—and swears on top of that—is muck-spout.)
A “brain denier” is someone who doesn’t use their noggin often.
This word, which means “someone who waves back at Teletubbies,” describes someone who isn’t too bright.
A boozer who hits the bottle too much can be called a “guzzling woodpecker.”
A “smelly boot” is an especially grouchy person.
A “gossip aunt” is someone who loves to spread rumors and talk about other people.
A brat—literally, “snot spoon.”
A “saliva licker,” or brown-noser.
A “varnish monkey” is an overly flashy man who dresses garishly.
In English, someone who behaves crassly (typically a man) can be called a “pig” or a “dog.” German combines both into schweinehund, meaning “pig dog.”
Here’s one for your morning commute: You can call the slowpoke in front of you a trantüte, or a “bag of whale blubber.”
Backpfeife is a slap across the cheek, and gesicht is face. Put them together and you get “a face that invites a slap.”
Remember the recorder from your childhood music class? It has seven holes and blows hot air, just like a “recorder face,” or blockflötengesicht. (It refers to a person’s two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, and mouth.) Basically, it means a stupid person, or someone given to meaningless talk.
There are a few sock-oriented taunts in German. A socken-in-sandalen-träger, or “socks-in-sandals wearer,” is kind of a wimp. So is a sockenschläfer (someone who sleeps in socks) and a sockenfalter (a man who folds his socks).
Likewise, “soft eggs” are weak or wimpy. This word (and the rest of the insults listed below) are part of a whole list of German synonyms for wimp called weicheiwörter, or “soft egg words.”
A warmduscher is a wuss who takes warm showers.
Someone who irons their jeans.
Someone who drinks tea—most likely when everyone else is drinking beer.
Someone who parks in the shade.
A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2022.