What has a head and a tail but no body?
From the top of your head to the tips of your toes, we’ll cover almost everything in between.
But don’t worry, this isn’t your middle school health class—and no need to hand over any Abraham Lincolns or Benjamin Franklins, either.
What follows might not be enough to get you into a prestigious medical college, but suffice it to say you’ll know the words to the song, “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” in German by the time we’re done!
Why Learn Body Parts in German?
Learning about your body is a part of life. The body can amaze and scare us. In the end, learning about the body in another language comes down to improving your knowledge and rounding out your skills as a second-language speaker.
Studying the body in German is a crucial component of the basic knowledge you lay as a foundation for the rest of your language-learning career. Basic body parts are vocabulary that you typically learn along with numbers, shapes, colors and the like. Knowing how to speak about your body is critical for expressing yourself. If there’s something wrong, you should be able to communicate it to the proper authorities.
Beyond that, talking about the body helps you to improve your use of German possessive pronouns, reflexive verbs and a variety of other grammatical concepts. The more you integrate your knowledge of German into your daily life, the closer you’ll be to attaining fluency.
Where to Practice Body Parts in German
In order to get the most out of the German body vocabulary we’ve included below, here are some resources you should take full advantage of:
- Deutsche Welle (DW) slideshow. Practice naming the body parts with this slideshow stocked with pictures. Both the singular and plural forms of each body part are provided. You can also check out the site’s other slideshow on strange German words used to talk about body parts—some of these wacky words might surprise you!
- FluentU videos. Seeing German body parts used in authentic contexts is a great way to memorize these new words. FluentU takes real-world videos—like movie trailers, music videos, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language lessons. Each video comes with interactive subtitles so you can click on any word to find out more about it and see it used in additional videos. You can also keep practicing German words with customized vocabulary lists, flashcard sets and fun quizzes!
- Learn German with Herr Antrim YouTube video. Though this video is narrated in German, the provided pictures and animation of the popular Mr. Potato Head toy make it easy to understand. No purchase necessary—just bring a fun learning attitude!
- Quizlet flashcards. Flip through these flashcards to memorize the body parts in German.
- Expatica list of medical terms. Want to learn more about the body and all the medical terms associated with it? Consult this resource for a beginner’s list of German medical terms.
- Sporcle quiz. Choose from the provided German vocabulary list to match body parts to their English translations. See how fast you can name the body parts in German.
- german-games.net test. This multiple-choice test asks you to match the picture provided to one of the German words below it. Click the speaker icon next to each choice to hear it pronounced, and earn stars for each correct answer.
Before you get to the fun activities, though, keep reading. We’ve got plenty of vocabulary and other information for you to learn about the body parts in German!
A Quick Note About Possessive Pronouns
In German, possessive pronouns have either an accusative or dative ending. The possessive pronoun stems are as follows:
euer (your/yours informal)
Ihr (your/yours formal)
Depending on the case of the object in possession, you’ll choose either an accusative or dative ending.
Sometimes, however, you’ll need to use a reflexive verb and reflexive pronoun. We’ll speak a bit more about that next, but those are just a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you talk about body parts in German.
Verbs Associated with Body Parts in German
We won’t get too much into reflexive verbs here, but know that they require a reflexive pronoun. Most reflexive pronouns begin with sich (himself/herself/itself) in their infinitive form. It’s these reflexive pronouns that direct the action back toward the speaker, showing possession. Just like possessive pronouns, there are accusative and dative reflexive pronouns.
Examples of non-reflexive verbs include:
brechen (to break)
waschen (to wash)
verletzen (to injure)
kleiden (to clothe)
tätowieren (to tattoo)
However, when used with body parts, many of these same verbs become reflexive. For example, you can say, “Ich wasche die Tasse” (“I wash the cup”), as well as “Ich wasche mich” (“I wash myself.”)
Adjectives Used to Describe Body Parts in German
Now, when you’re talking about body parts, it’s a good idea to know a few adjectives. Here are some that will help spice up your conversation:
Remember that adjective endings must match the case, gender and number of the body parts they’re describing.
Try to incorporate some of these adjectives into your vocabulary. After all, the song lyric “I like big butts and I cannot lie” (“Ich mag dicke Ärsche und ich kann nicht lügen”) wouldn’t be the same if it were only “I like butts and I cannot lie” (“Ich mag Ärsche und ich kann nicht lügen”).
The Ultimate List of Body Parts in German: From Your Head to Your Toes!
Alright, let’s get to the heart of the matter, literally. Let’s begin our study of the body parts in German with a basic overview.
Main Body Parts in German
In the list below, you’ll find some of the basic body parts in German. In this section and those that follow, whenever applicable, we’ve included the plural form of the words as well (for example: eyes, ears, etc.).
der Kopf (head)
das Auge/die Augen (eye/eyes)
die Nase (nose)
der Mund (mouth)
das Ohr/die Ohren (ear/ears)
der Nacken (neck)
die Schulter/die Schultern (shoulder/shoulders)
der Arm/die Arme (arm/arms)
die Brust (chest)
der Rücken (back)
die Hüfte/die Hüften (hip/hips)
das Abdomen (abdomen)
die Leistenbeuge (groin)
das Bein/die Beine (leg/legs)
der Fuß/die Füße (foot/feet)
Now that we have our basic outline, let’s move on to more detailed body parts, beginning with the head.
Parts of the Head in German
To help you remember the vocabulary, point to these parts on your own body as you say the German words.
die Kopfhaut (scalp)
die Stirn (forehead)
die Backe/die Backen (cheek/cheeks)
der Kiefer (jaw)
die Lippe/die Lippen (lip/lips)
das Kinn (chin)
Are you ready to move on? The torso is up next.
Parts of the Torso in German
We didn’t include all of the internal organs, but here’s what you call the main parts of your torso in German.
das Schulterblatt/die Schulterblätter (shoulder blade/shoulder blades)
die Flanke/die Flanken (side/sides)
der Bauch (stomach)
der Bauchnabel (belly button)
die Bauchmuskeln (abdominal muscles)
das Becken (pelvis)
We’re slowly building the body! Let’s finish off with the upper and lower appendages.
Parts of the Upper Appendages in German
Can you count how many body vocabulary words you know in German on your fingers?
der Bizeps/die Bizepse (bicep/biceps)
der Unterarm/die Unterarme (forearm/forearms)
das Handgelenk/die Handgelenke (wrist/wrists)
der Daumen/die Daumen (thumb/thumbs)
der Finger/die Finger (finger/fingers)
der Fingernagel/die Fingernägel (fingernail/fingernails)
From the tip of your head…
Parts of the Lower Appendages in German
…down to your feet: Here’s the final list of body parts in German.
der Oberschenkel/die Oberschenkel (thigh/thighs)
die Wade/die Waden (calf/calves)
die Fessel/die Fesseln (ankle/ankles)
der Absatz/die Absätze (heel/heels)
das Fußgewölbe/die Fußgewölbe (arch/arches)
der Zeh/die Zehen (toe/toes)
There you have it—the body parts in German, from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes!
Rebecca Henderson holds a degree in German and Creative Writing. She is the editor behind The Kreativ Space and hopes to shift your world perspective through her words, because looking out the same window every day hardly makes for an interesting life.
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