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German words weaved their way
into America's daily dialect

chicken hardrule

Americans speak a little German every day without even realizing it. For example, following a sneeze, the typical expression is "Gesundheit!" - which is German for "to your health."

Many words are identical in both German and English, such as finger, hand, arm, winter and wind. Others are only slightly changed: Schulter - shoulder; knie - knee; Mutter - mother; Onkel - uncle; Garten - garden; grun - green; blau - blue; fein - fine; rot -red.

Americans also use words such as Inspiration, Student, Semester and Chance - identical in both languages except for the capitalization in German.

The words listed below have become so common in English they are now considered part of the American language:

gemutlichkeit
kafeeklatsch
beergarden
stein
prosit
rat(h) skeller
gestalt
angst
blitz (krieg)
flak
verboten
streusel (cake or topping)
torte
dummkopf
waltz
yodel
lied (pronounced leet)
glockenspiel
hinterland
iceberg
wanderlust
noodle
concertmaster
sauerkraut
frankfurter
wunderkind
kindergarten
poltergeist
Kriss Kringle
plunder
misch-masch
zigzag
kaputt
spatsy
pretzel
cookbook
bratwurst
wiener
fahrvergnugen

Source: German-American Heritage Teaching Guide, Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzmann, University of Cincinnati, 513.556.1955

Special thanks to Don Tolzmann, Director of the German-American Studies Program at the University of Cincinnati for his contributions to this site.

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