So you’ve finally decided to travel to a German-speaking country.
And being the adventurer you are, you’ve decided to check out Austria, neighbor to Germany and cross-point of many fantastic European countries!
Now, maybe you’ve worked very hard on your own to learn German for this moment.
And if you’ve been particularly passionate and curious, you’ve equipped yourself with some of the more bizarre vocabulary in German.
But often, a huge part of the language can be missing from these resources: slang and the real language as it’s commonly spoken on the streets.
And if it’s Austrian streets you’re going to be wandering around on, you’ll find that standard German just may not apply in certain cases.
Why Learn Austrian Slang?
As you study German and become more versed in the language, you’ll notice along the way that you can’t always take every word literally if you want to be really fluent. This is where the curious world of slang comes in, and yes, it can seem like an entirely new world!
In addition to that, Austria is a German-speaking country, but you can’t think of it like part of Germany. The same words can mean different things in Austria and Germany—indeed, Germany has its own share of common slang, but Austria’s choice of certain words can be more exclusive. So if you’re planning on traveling to somewhere like Vienna or Salzburg, you should be aware of the little shifts and turns that await you.
That said, here are just a few more pluses to learning German slang for the area where you’ll be traveling (in this case, Austria):
- It helps you stay in the here and now. Like any language, German experiences minor changes according to the tides of time, and these little changes vary according to place, too. By learning Austrian slang, you’ll be more adjusted to the current flow of things while being mindful of those you converse with and their backgrounds.
- It helps you avoid social conflict. Saying something without understanding the full nuances behind it can lead to some serious faux pas. Austrian slang can get a little complicated, so it’s good to know it before you use it!
- It helps earn appreciation and build camaraderie. By its very nature, slang helps build a sense of belonging within a group of people. If you’re planning to show off your Deutsch knowledge to someone in Graz, you can expect both pleasant surprise and friendliness from your conversation partner when you pick up on a local slang term.
17 Cool Austrian Slang Terms for the Here and Now
You can pick up even more colloquialisms by checking out the authentic videos on FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons. Since this is the content that native German speakers actually watch, you get the chance to experience how modern German is spoken in real life.
Here’s just a brief example of the variety of content you’ll find on FluentU:
Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. This way, you get German immersion online without ever worrying about missing a word.
Just tap on any subtitled word to instantly see an in-context definition, usage examples and a memorable illustration to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to your vocabulary list for later review.
And FluentU isn’t just for watching videos. It’s a complete platform for learning! It’s designed to effectively teach you all the vocabulary from any video using fun quizzes and activities like “fill in the blank.”
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re studying and recommends examples and videos to you based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re watching the same video!
1. Grüß Gott
Literally meaning “God bless,” this is the standard greeting in Austria and Southern Germany (as opposed to a simple Hallo or Guten Tag). While this greeting might not be what you’d consider an especially unique or casual piece of slang, it’s bound to be useful and its religious context is indicative of the cultures that use it commonly. That said, as a whole, Austria is considered more conservative and religious than the bulk of Germany.
This is a cute, informal way of saying goodbye. You can equate it with the English “Bye-bye” or “See you soon.” You can say “Bussi, baba!” to essentially say, “Kisses and bye-bye!”
Oida in its more literal translation would mean “older person/oldie” but its colloquial translation is more similar to “dude.” This one is a must-know because besides being a term to refer to a fellow (old or not), it’s incredibly varied in its usage. You can use it to express annoyance, confusion, surprise, wonder, cheer, disbelief, appreciation and so on. If you’re in Austria for an extended amount of time, you’ll definitely be hearing this in a variety of scenarios.
4. (der) Ungustl
Here’s a slang word used to describe a very unpleasant, unsympathetic person. It’s derived from the adjective ungustiös, which means “unappetizing.” You probably won’t hear this in more formal conversations, but should there be a more casual situation in which there’s a particularly annoying character, you might pick up this insult from a native or mutter it yourself.
5. (die) Kaprize
Translated to mean “whim” or “notion,” Kaprize in Austrian slang is used to describe a creative or funny notion or mood. You can liken it to the similar-sounding English word “caprice.” You’d likely hear this slang in regards to something frivolous, for example:
Das ist eine komische Kaprize der Künstlerin. (That is a peculiar whim of the artist.)
This is a word meaning “cool” or “awesome.” While standard German would likely use geil or toll under similar circumstances, you’ll find leiwand is frequently used in an Austrian setting. Whether you’re checking out Hohensalzburg Castle or the art museums in Vienna, you’ll likely be saying this slang often on your excursions in Austria.
Here’s another slang word with multiple uses. The literal translation of krass is (conveniently) “crass,” but the adjective is used to describe extremes in either a positive or negative way. You can use it for anything that makes you feel strong emotion, whether it’s great delight, displeasure, sadness or fear.
Depending on how you feel, “Das ist krass” can mean anything from “That’s awesome” to “That’s terrible,” and “Krass!” can mean anything from “Cool!” to “How pitiful.” You might want to think of it like the English exclamation “Whoa!” or the English slang “sick.”
8. Deppert / Bist du deppert?
Deppert is an adjective meaning dumb or idiotic. In Austria, the term is used to describe a fool or silly person. For example:
Das ist ein deppertes Kind. (That’s a dumb kid.)
“Bist du deppert” basically means “Are you an idiot?” and could be directed towards a particularly eccentric individual.
Another kind salutation that you won’t hear often in Germany, Servus is similar to Grüß Gott in being a greeting commonly used in Austria, Southern Germany and Bavaria. Originally meaning “At your service” in its derived Latin roots, it’s now used as a typical friendly “Hello” or “Goodbye.”
10. Geh, hear auf!
This phrase can translate to a simple “Stop it!” You can use this in both a self-conscious and serious way. For example, you can bashfully exclaim, “Geh, hear auf!” after receiving exultant praise, or grunt it at someone whose actions need a serious stand-still.
11. (die) Jausen / Jause
Craving something to nibble on? You’re hankering for eine Jausen or Jause, which in Austrian slang means “snack.” This is a word all foodies should know, especially if they’re going to be traveling around Austria—it’s all too easy to build up an appetite when you’re wandering among the beautiful sights!
12. Na geh
Na, derived from the German nein, is a word often preceding many other phrases. In its common usage, it doesn’t always mean a simple “no.” It can be used in an affirmative way or even stand as its own expression. Simply asking “Na?” can be a way to ask how someone’s doing or prompt an action, somewhat like the English “Well?” “Na geh” is a common Austrian slang expression that can translate to “Oh no” or “Damn it,” and is used to express dismay.
13. (der) Owezara
This is a term that translates to “down-puller” and is used to describe someone who avoids work. This term is especially common in Vienna and is a good insult to label someone who’s highly skilled in the art of slacking off.
14. (der) Wahnsinn
The word Wahnsinn refers to madness or insanity, and its slang usage reflects that fittingly. “Das ist Wahnsinn” is a phrase that can be uttered to point out something that’s mind-blowing, awesome, crazy or random.
It’s human instinct to express our feelings of upset when we see something disgusting. While you can settle for the common “Yuck!” or “Ew,” you might do better in Austria to say “Grindig,” which simply means “nasty.”
16. Damma wos
There are two main uses for this slang phrase. In one usage, “Damma wos” implies you’ll meet up with someone sometime in the future, although it’s unclear exactly when. You can think of it as a “See you around.” In its other usage, it can be a call to rally people to get started on something, so it can be thought of as a “Let’s get going” or “Let’s get started.”
17. (die) Blunzn / Des is mir Blunzn
Blunzn is derived from the German Blutwurst (blood sausage). To say “Des is ma / mir Blunzn” is the same as saying in standard German, “Das ist mir egal.” All of those phrases mean “I don’t care.” However, be careful when you use the word Blunzn, as it can also be used as an insulting slang word to describe a certain type of woman.
You’ll probably find some good uses for any of the listed slang during your visit to Austria.
Remember to use these words and phrases politely and appropriately while maintaining your general knowledge of German!
Tschüß, or as the Austrians might say, Servus!
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