15 Adorably Wunderbar German Terms of Endearment

Photo illustration by Mental Floss. Images: iStock/chokkicx (flag), iStock.com/JakeOlimb (speech bubble with heart)
Photo illustration by Mental Floss. Images: iStock/chokkicx (flag), iStock.com/JakeOlimb (speech bubble with heart)

Liebling (darling), engel (angel), honigbiene (honeybee)—German has a number of terms of endearment to call those close your heart. But because it also likes to form compound words and add endings that cuten up whatever they attach to, it offers a lot of creative leeway in coming up with ever more delightful terms. Here are 15 adorably wunderbar German terms to try out on your sweeties.

1. Schatzi

One of the most common terms is Schatzi, or little treasure.

2. Knuddelbär

This means “cuddle bear,” and the knuddel can attach to other names too, as in knuddelmaus, or “cuddle mouse.”

3. Schmusebärchen

Schmusen is another way to say “to cuddle” or “to smooch,” and adding the diminutive –chen ending to bär here yields “little cuddle bear.”

4. Schmusebacke

What else can you smooch, or rather smooosh? Cheeks. Schumsebacke is "shmoosh cheeks."

5. Mausezähnchen

The animals of endearment like bär and maus can attach to other nouns too, like … tooth? Mausezähnchen is “little mouse tooth.” Imagine how small and cute one of those must be!

6. Mausebär

The animal terms can combine with each other too. If a mouse is cuddly and cute and a bear is cuddly and cute, just how stinkin’ cuddly and cute is a mousebear?

7. Schnuckelschneke

Schnecke is a snail, and while snails may not rank high in adorability for English pet names, they show up a lot in German ones. The melodious Schnuckelschneke is "nibble snail."

8. Igelschnäuzchen

Igel is hedgehog and it’s hard to get cuter than hedgehog, but “little hedgehog snout” should do it.

9. Hasenfürzchen

Along with the bear, mouse, snail, and hedgehog, the bunny, or hase, figures prominently in German pet names. Knuddelhase is a good one, but hasenfürzchen or "bunny fart," is better.

10. Honigkuchenpferd

If sweetness is what you’re after, you could go for süsse (sweetie), honigbär (honey bear), or zuckermaus (sugar mouse). But if you’re going to go sweet, why not go all the way to honigkuchenpferd, or "honey-cake-horse"?

11. Knutschkugel

Knutschkugel is "smooch ball," and in addition to being a term of endearment, it’s a common nickname for those little round two-seater cars you see on European streets.

12. Moppelchen

Speaking of roundness, you wouldn’t necessarily want to be called moppel—it means something like "fatso." But moppelchen, or "lil’ chubsy," says it with love.

13. Schnuckiputzi

The best way to translate Schnuckiputzi is simply "cutie pie."

14. Schnurzelpurzel

You can get carried away with the repetitive rhyming potential of these terms, leading to nonsense (but somehow perfect) ones like Schnurzelpurzel.

15. Schnuckiputzihasimausierdbeertörtchen

This creation ranks 139 on a list of terms of endearment at this German baby name site. It translates to cutiepiebunnymousestrawberrytart and is something of a term of endearment, lullaby, and bedtime story all rolled into one.

What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

iStock
iStock

For carbohydrate lovers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal quite like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say stuffing, though. They say dressing. In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. Dressing seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while stuffing is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it filling, which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If stuffing stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to HuffPost, it may have been because Southerners considered the word stuffing impolite, and therefore never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

What’s the Difference Between Forests, Woods, and Jungles?

Jui-Chi Chan/iStock via Getty Images
Jui-Chi Chan/iStock via Getty Images

If you're an English speaker, there’s a good chance you often use the words woods, forest, and jungle correctly without even thinking about it. Even if a patch of trees takes up a significant portion of your backyard, you probably wouldn’t consider it a forest; and you wouldn’t talk about the beautiful fall foliage in New England’s jungles. Based on those examples, it seems like woods are smaller than forests, and jungles aren’t found in colder climates. This isn’t wrong—but there's more to it than that.

According to Merriam-Webster, a forest is “a dense growth of trees and underbrush covering a large tract,” while woods are “a dense growth of trees usually greater in extent than a grove and smaller than a forest.” The reason we consider forests to be larger than woods dates back to the Norman rule of Great Britain in 1066, when a forest was a plot of land owned by the Crown that was large enough to accommodate game for royal hunting parties. Whether that land contained trees or not was essentially irrelevant.

These days, scientists and land managers definitely consider the presence of trees necessary for land to be classified as a forest. To set it apart from woods, or woodland, it usually has to meet certain density qualifications, which are different depending on whom you ask.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), a forest must cover about 1.24 acres of land, and its canopy cover—the amount of land covered by the treetops—must exceed 10 percent of the acreage [PDF]. “Other wooded land” must also span about 1.24 acres, but its canopy cover is between 5 and 10 percent. In a nutshell, the FAO thinks forests and woods are the same size, but forests are more dense than woods. Australia, on the other hand, employs plant ecologist Raymond Specht’s classification system for its vegetation, in which any tree-populated land with less than 30 percent canopy cover is a woodland, and anything more dense than that is a forest.

Unlike forests, jungles don’t have specific scientific classifications, because the word jungle isn’t really used by scientists. According to Sciencing, it’s a colloquial term that usually denotes what scientists refer to as tropical forests.

Tropical forests are located around the Equator and have the highest species diversity per area in the world. Since they’re so densely populated with flora and fauna, it makes sense that both Merriam-Webster and the Encyclopedia Britannica describe jungles as “tangled” and “impenetrable.” They’re bursting with millions of plants and animals that are different from what we see in temperate and boreal forests to the north.

Because most of us aren’t in the habit of clarifying which type of forest we’re talking about in casual conversation, it’s no surprise that we often refer to the temperate forests we see in our own climate simply as forests, which we differentiate from those rich, overgrown tropical territories to the south by calling them jungles.

To summarize, forests are historically and colloquially considered to be larger than woods, and scientifically considered to be more dense. Jungles are technically forests, too, since jungle is a casual word for what scientists call a tropical forest.

And, all differences aside, it’s relaxing to spend time in any of them—here are 11 scientific reasons why that’s true.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER