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24 Berlin Slang Words to Sound Like a Local [With Audio]

If you’re living in Berlin (or even just visiting) and you want to sound like a local, you’ll need to know some popular slang. 

In this post, you’ll learn 24 slang words commonly used in Berlin to add to your vocabulary. 

This is the day-to-day language used in the city, which you probably won’t learn in your typical online language course or in-person classes

Practicing this Berlin slang will help you connect with locals and impress your German friends.

(Please note: the audio pronunciations in this post are in a “Standard German” accent, so they don’t sound exactly as they would coming from a real Berliner.)

Contents


1. Juten Tach (Good Day)

Standard German Equivalent: Guten Tag

Juten Tach is simply the written form of the way a person with a Berlin accent would pronounce Guten Tag, which later became a typical way to say “Hello” in Berlin.

Juten Tach! Wie geht’s? (Good day! How are you?)

2. Keule (Bro/Man/Pal/Buddy)

Standard German Equivalent: Bruder  or Alter

Berliners might refer to a close friend as their Keule, which literally means “mace”. But don’t worry, no bludgeoning is necessary, you can probably stick with a friendly fist bump instead. This one is most popular in the Wedding district in the North West of Berlin. 

Hey Keule, wat geht? (Hey bro, what’s up?) 

3. Atze (Bro/Man/Pal/Buddy)

Standard German Equivalent: Bruder  or Alter

Here’s another way to refer to a good friend. You’ll hear this one favoured over Keule in the south West around Zehlendorf. 

Meene Atze wird heut dreißig. (My buddy is turning thirty today.) 

4. Bammel (Fear)

Standard German Equivalent: Angst

In Berlin, Bammel describes the feeling of doubt, fear and uncertainty.

Da brauchste keen Bammel zu ham! (You don’t need to be scared of that!) 

5. Brett (Door)

Standard German Equivalent: Tür

Brett is used to describe doors, especially those in a house.

Mach’s Brett ran. Es zieht! (Close the door. There’s a breeze!) 

6. Futsch (Broken/Gone)

Standard German Equivalent: kaputt or verloren

In Berlin, you can say futsch to say things that are broken, but it can also mean that whatever you’re talking about is gone or lost. 

Meen janzes Jeld is futsch! (All my money is gone!) 

7. Helle (Clever/Bright)

Standard German Equivalent: schlau

Helle is an adjective that describe a clever, switched-on kind of person. 

Unsere neue Azubi is nich’ besonders helle. (Our new apprentice isn’t particularly bright.) 

8. Ick or Icke (I)

Standard German Equivalent: ich

Ick or icke are just like Juten Tach, they’re a spelling that’s based on the Berlin accent. It’s pronounced like “ich” in Standard German.

Ick hab heut nüscht zu tun. (I have nothing to do today.)

9. Kaff (Hicksville/Backwater)

Standard German Equivalent: Ortschaft

In Berlin, Kaff means a small, suburban village that’s not interesting and which is isolated from urban areas and cities. You might hear the term j.w.d. in reference to such places, which stands for janz weit draußen (very far out). 

Das ist so ein Kaff jwd. (That’s one of those backwater places way far out.)

10. Öljötze (Deadpan person/boring person)

Standard German Equivalent: ein langweiliger Mensch

If someone’s being a bit of a stiff bore, you might call them an Öljötze. Again, this is with the famed Berlin preference for “j” over “g”. Without the specific accent, it’d be an Ölgötze. 

Der sitzt da wie een Öljötze. (He’s sat there like a real bore.) 

11. Flitzpiepe (Nitwit/Birdbrain)

Standard German Equivalent: Dummkopf

In Berlin, you’re not an idiot, you’re a Flitzpiepe. This one is often used endearingly between friends or family, so it’s not as harsh as it may seem. 

Wat machst du, du Flitzpiepe? (What are you doing, you nitwit?) 

12. Sich kabbeln (To squabble)

Standard German Equivalent: sich streiten

Kabbeln is a slang verb found in various parts of North Germany that describes actions such as squabbling, arguing and fighting. It’s usually used to describe minor, short altercations.

Die Brüder Markus und Lukas kabbeln sich oft. (The brothers Markus and Lukas fight each other very often.)

13. Lulatsch (Beanpole; a tall man)

Standard German Equivalent: ein großer Mann

Lulatsch is an adjective that refers to tall, thin individuals.

Neben mir saß so ein Lulatsch. (Next to me sat a beanpole.)

14. Kieken (To look)

Standard German Equivalent: gucken

Look alive! Here’s another very typical Berlin word. It’s often used when someone is staring at something or someone.

If, for example, you’re donning an uncharacteristically stylish outfit that day, and your friend is goggling you in amazement, you might smugly reply: “Da kiekste, wa?” (Amazed, are we?) 

Wat kiekst‘n so? (What’re you lookin’ at?) 

15. Nasenfahrrad (Glasses/Specs)

Standard German Equivalent: Brille

Nasenfahrrad means “nose bike” when literally translated into English. It’s an ironic way to describe glasses in Berlin slang.

Naja, ick find ihn mit Nasenfahrrad schöner. (Well, I think he’s more handsome with glasses.)

16. Pampich (Cheeky/sassy)

Standard German Equivalent: frech

Pampich is an adjective used to describe someone who’s direct, sassy and bold. Again, like juten Tach, this is a way of writing the word to reflect the Berlin accent, as it would otherwise be pampig

Jetzt werd ma nich pampich! (Now, don’t get sassy!)

17. Pladdern (To rain heavily)

Standard German Equivalent: heftig regnen

When raining heavily, the verb Berliners use to describe the weather is pladdern, as it’s shorter than the Standard German equivalent, heftig regnen.

Es pladderte die janze Woche lang. (It rained heavily all week long.)

18. Piepel (Young boy)

Standard German Equivalent: kleiner Junge

Though it may sound like the English “people”, Piepel means a young boy.

Schon als kleener Piepel hab ick viele Gedichte jeschrieben. (I was already writing poems as a young boy.) 

19. Rammdösich (Woozy/Dizzy/Groggy)

Standard German Equivalent: benebelt / benommen / betäubt

Rammdösich is usually used to describe someone who’s tired, confused and unable to form clear thoughts. Once again, we’ve written this how it would be pronounced in the Berlin accent; it would otherwise be rammdösig. 

Diese Hitze macht mich rammdösich. (This heat is making me woozy!) 

20. Stiefeln (To stride/to walk)

Standard German Equivalent: [mit weit ausgreifenden Schritten]gehen

Stiefeln means walking with slow and far-reaching steps. It means “boots” in Standard German, so it might refer to the way you would have to walk when wearing some big snow or rainboots. 

You’ll see in our example sentence below, the word stiefeln is in its past participle form—gestiefelt. But because we’re in Berlin, we’ve written it how it’d be pronounced in a proper Berlin accent, where the “g” sound is often replaced with a “j”. 

Ick bin den janzen Weg von der Uni nach Hause durch den tiefen Schnee jestiefelt. (I strode all the way home from the university through the deep snow.) 

21. Molle (A glass or bottle of Beer)

Standard German Equivalent: Bier

Molle is a classic bit of Berliner slang meaning either a bottle or glass of beer. You even go the whole hog and ask for a Molle mit Korn which is a beer and a shot of corn schnapps. Bottoms up! 

Trinken wir noch ‘ne Molle. (Let’s have another beer.)

22. Schlamassel (Difficult situation)

Standard German Equivalent: schwierige Situation

In Berlin slang, Schlamassel is used to in difficult and troublesome circumstances.

Da hamma ‘n echten Schlamassel! (We’ve got a messy situation here!) 

23. Dit is mir schnuppe (I don’t care)

Standard German Equivalent: Das ist mir egal

If you’re feeling indifferent about something, it’s all schnuppe to you! (We’re sorry to say that technology failed us on this one, and we couldn’t include the audio pronunciation because it wasn’t quite right.)

Is mir schnuppe, wat dit kostet. (I don’t care what it costs.)  

24. Stampe (Divebar/Drinking den)

Standard German Equivalent: Kneipe

Stampe is a slang word used to describe small, cheap, local pubs in Berlin. (Again, technology has failed us in the pronunciation of this slang word.)

Das ist kein schickes Lokal, ist eher eine düstere, verräucherte Stampe. (It’s not a fancy bar, it’s a gloomy, smoky divebar.) 

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How to Memorize Berlin Slang Words

Make online friends from Berlin

Language exchange apps such as HelloTalk and Tandem will allow you to connect with people from Berlin who are looking for a language partner. Look for someone with similar interests to encourage more frequent conversations and a long-term (mutually beneficial) friendship.

You can also use italki to find native speakers in Berlin who can tutor you and help you practice your slang usage. 

Visit Berlin to get some practice

Millions of people visit the German capital every year. To break into Berlin’s community and make new local friends, you can attend language exchange meetups there.

At an in-person language exchange, you can find Germans who might be interested in learning your native language while teaching you some Berlin slang in return.

Use flashcards

Making your own flashcards and using them to study can help you master new words. Flashcards are scientifically proven to be effective because they engage a mental faculty called active recall.

If you don’t have time to make your own, you can always use a convenient flashcard app to help you learn German. Many of these apps use spaced repetition, which means they repeat words and expressions over spaced intervals to improve your ability to remember them. 

 

Try to memorize a few of these slang words a day and you’ll have them all down in no time. Then start using them in conversation to improve your confidence and comfort level.

You’ll soon be sprinkling them in with ease and recognizing them in German media

And One More Thing...

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