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Emotions in German: 141 Words and Phrases to Express Your Feelings

German can be a wonderfully expressive language.

To help you fully express yourself, we’ve put together a list of useful words and phrases for talking about emotions in German.

With this vocabulary, you can describe practically any emotional state you might find yourself in.

Try to learn a few new words each day, and you’ll soon be an expert at communicating your feelings…in German! 

Contents


How to Express Emotions in German

Before you peruse our vocabulary lists below, check out some basic phrases you can use to start expressing your feelings in German:

GermanEnglishExample
Ich bin + [adjective]I'm... Ich bin froh. (I'm glad.)
Ich fühle mich + [adjective]I feel... Ich fühle mich glücklich. ( I feel happy.)
Mir ist + [noun]I'm/I feel... Mir ist langweilig. (I'm bored.)

Mir ist schlecht. (I feel sick.)
Mir geht es + [adjective]I 'm/I feel... Mir geht es nicht so gut. (I'm not doing so well.)

Mir geht es besser. (I'm feeling better.)
Ich habe... + [noun]I have... /I am Ich habe Heimweh. (I'm homesick. Literally: "I have homesickness.")

You can also add qualifiers to make a feeling or emotion more or less intense. These are adverbs that typically go before the adjective (or noun) to indicate its degree:

GermanEnglish
nicht not
ein bisschen a little bit
ziemlich quite
eher rather
sehr  very
wirklich really
besonders especially/particularly
extrem extremely
voll really/very
wahnsinnig insanely
total totally
komplett completely

For example:

Ich bin heute sehr glücklich. (I’m very happy today.)

Er ist ziemlich aufgeregt. (He’s quite nervous.)

Wir waren total überrascht. (We were totally surprised.)

Adjectives to Describe Feelings in German

At some point, you’ve got to move beyond “Mir geht es gut, danke.” (I’m fine, thanks.) There are so many other ways to describe how you’re feeling in German!

GermanEnglish
glücklich happy
froh glad
fröhlich cheerful
zufrieden satisfied
begeistert excited
dankbar thankful
erleichtert relieved
hoffnungsvoll hopeful
inspiriert inspired
interessiert interested
freudig joyous
selig blissful
überglücklich elated
traurig sad
peinlich embarrassed
übel ill/sick/bad
satt full/satiated
griesgrämig grumpy/grouchy
deprimiert depressed
ängstlich anxious
furchtsam fearful
beunruhigt worried
genervt annoyed
böse angry
rasend furious
überrascht überrascht
erstaunt erstaunt
fassungslos stunned
schockiert shocked
besessen obsessed
eifersüchtig jealous

Here are some examples:

Ich bin sehr erleichtert, dass ich die Prüfung bestanden habe. (I am very relieved that I passed the exam.)

Wir sind dankbar für die Unterstützung unserer Freunde. (We’re thankful for the support of our friends.)

Die Musik sorgte für eine fröhliche Stimmung. (The music created a cheerful atmosphere.)

Verbs to Talk About Feelings and Emotions

Before you start using these verbs, you may want to review how to conjugate German verbs to make sure you’re using them correctly.

GermanEnglish
sich fühlen to feel
empfinden to perceive
erleben to experience
lieben to love
hassen to hate
mögen to like
sich freuen über to be happy about
traurig sein to be sad
wütend sein to be angry
sich ärgern to be annoyed
überrascht sein to be surprised
erschrecken to scare/to be frightened
hoffen to hope
sich freuen auf to look forward to
sich fürchten vor to be afraid of
genießen to enjoy
bedauern to regret
sich schämen to be ashamed
staunen to marvel/to be amazed
sich ekeln vor to be disgusted by
lächeln to smile
die Stirn runzeln to frown
weinen to cry
schreien to yell
Mitleid mit jemandem haben to pity someone
lachen to laugh
jubeln to cheer

See how these verbs are used in context:

Ich freue mich auf das Wochenende. (I’m looking forward to the weekend.)

Sie genießen die schöne Aussicht vom Balkon. (They’re enjoying the beautiful view from the balcony.)

Er ärgert sich über den verpassten Zug. (He’s annoyed about missing the train.)

German Nouns for Feelings and Emotions

Verbs and adjectives are useful for talking about how we feel. But sometimes we need some nouns to talk about feelings and emotions in general.

GermanEnglish
die Emotion emotion
die Laune mood
das Gefühl feeling
die Liebe love
die Freude joy
der Hass hate
die Hoffnung hope
das Mitgefühl sympathy
der Ärger anger
die Trauer sadness
die Furcht fear
der Stolz pride
die Verwirrung confusion
der Hass hatred
das Mitgefühl compassion
die Gelassenheit calmness
der Ekel disgust
die Neugier curiosity
die Dankbarkeit gratitude
der Schmerz pain
die Zufriedenheit contentment
die Scham shame
die Spannung excitement
der Optimismus optimism
die Einsamkeit loneliness
die Langeweile boredom
die Begeisterung enthusiasm
die Sorge worry/concern
die Geduld patience
das Elend misery
die Erleichterung relief
die Sehnsucht longing
die Verwirrung confusion/puzzlement
die Depression depression
die Angst anxiety
die Schuld guilt

Check out these examples for a better idea of how to use these nouns:

Ich habe die Freude an meiner Arbeit wiedergefunden. (I’ve found the joy in my work again.)

Sie ist immer noch in Trauer über den Verlust ihres Mannes. (She ist still in mourning over the loss of her husband.)

Trotz der Verwirrung, sprach er mit Gelassenheit. (He spoke calmly, despite the confusion.)

Phrases to Express Your Feelings in German

Before you start talking about your feelings in German, you should review the different cases and how to use them. For example, to say “I’m bored” you could use one of these two phrases:

Mir ist langweilig. (the dative case)
Ich habe Langeweile. (the accusative case)

With the nominative construction describing a state of being, if you said “Ich bin langweilig,” you’d actually be saying “I’m boring”!

Here are some more examples:

GermanEnglish
Mir ist übel. I'm ill./I feel sick.
Nimm es mir nicht übel. Don't take it the wrong way.
Mir ist peinlich. I'm embarrassed.
Das ist mir peinlich. That's embarrassing.
Ich bin begeistert! I'm thrilled!
Ich habe Sorgen. I'm worried.
Ich bin geduldig. I'm patient.
Ich habe Geduld. I have patience.
Ich fühle mich elend. I feel awful.
Mir ist ganz elend. I'm completely miserable.
Ich bin neugierig. I'm curious.
Ich platze vor Neugier! I'm bursting with curiosity!/I'm dying to know!
Sei nicht so neugierig. Don't be so nosy.
Ich habe es satt. I'm fed-up.
Ich bin erleichtert. I'm relieved.
Das ist eine Erleichterung. That's a relief.
Ich bin gut gelaunt. I'm in a good mood.
Ich bin schlecht gelaunt. I'm not in a good mood.
Ich bin launisch. I'm moody.
Ich habe Sehnsucht nach Eis. I'm craving ice cream.
Ich warte sehnsüchtig drauf. I'm longing for it./I'm eagerly waiting for it./I can't wait.
Ich bin verwirrt. I'm confused.
Ich bin optimistisch. I’m optimistic.
Ich fühle mich euphorisch. I feel euphoric.
Du bist so negativ. You're so negative.

German Idioms and Slang for Expressing Emotions

There are some great German idioms you can use to express your emotions. For example, you can use “Du gehst mir tierisch auf den Keks” (You’re really annoying me) to express frustration with someone. It literally means “You’re really getting on my cookie”!

Or how about “Du hast wohl den Arsch offen,”  or “You plainly have the butt open,” really meaning “You’re out of your mind/unreasonable.”

Germans also use slang to express their feelings:

  • Ich war total baff(I was totally flabbergasted!)
  • Ich bin heute voll happy! (I’m really happy today!)
  • Mir gehts tip-top! (I’m doing great!)

Indeed, many English words are used in slang, mostly jargon and curse words. So keep your eyes and ears open, and before you know it, you’ll be feeling more comfortable expressing your German feelings.

How to Practice Your Feelings Vocabulary

Find Feeling Words in Famous Quotes

There are many short lines of poetic speech and famous quotes in German that can be easily translated. They often express feelings and emotions and can help you practice this vocabulary as well as the correct sentence structure. 

Simply find a quote you particularly like, memorize it, repeat it and sooner or later the situation to use it will arise. For example, take this famous quote from Leo Tolstoy:

“Das Glück besteht nicht darin, dass du tun kannst, was du willst, sondern darin, dass du immer willst, was du tust.” (Happiness does not consist in doing what you want, but in always wanting what you do.)

Attend a Poetry Slam

If you’re planning to visit or live in Germany, try to find a poetry slam to attend. These modern urban poet competitions convey just as much feeling as the classic masters—albeit while often being edgier, urbanite and perhaps more relevant to our world today.

You may even catch a German slam in larger cities internationally and in North America—they’ve happened in NYC’s Goethe Institut. To keep up with events like poetry slams and German-language gatherings, check out Meetup.com. In the meantime, watch this slam video or this one with subtitles!

Consume Content from Native Speakers 

If you aren’t able to catch a German slam in person, you can listen to native speakers using these feeling words online through various video and audio content.

Using resources like podcasts and YouTube channels is a great way to listen to native usage of these words without leaving your house. The Easy German YouTube channel has a large library of entertaining, subtitled videos targeted at learners. As you watch, pay attention to which words German speakers use to express their feelings: 

You can also use an immersive language learning program to hear these new words and phrases in context.

 

Bookmark this page and keep coming back to it whenever you need a refresher or want to learn a few more feeling words.

You’ll soon be able to express yourself—and your feelings—clearly and confidently in German!

And One More Thing...

Want to know the key to learning German effectively?

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