56 German Adjectives To Describe a Person and Their Personality
In any language, knowing how to describe someone’s personality is important.
Want to compliment your hilarious friend? Tell them they’re witzig (funny). Perhaps you want to warn your neighbors about the new guy living in your apartment block. Tell them he’s unfreundlich (unfriendly).
In this post, you’ll learn 56 German adjectives to describe a person and their personality, as well as how you can learn and practice this type of vocabulary.
- 56 Essential Words To Describe Just About Anyone in German
- What’s the Value of Describing Others?
- The Best Resources to Learn German Adjectives to Describe People
56 Essential Words To Describe Just About Anyone in German
Just a single word can pack a ton of meaning and reveal mountains about how people react in situations, go about their days and interact with others. You can use these words to describe your least favorite coworker, the love of your life or a lesser-known acquaintance.
The list below is organized into positive, neutral, negative and slang subsections so you can quickly pick out the perfect German adjective depending on your feelings.
Positive Begriffe (positive terms)
|Süß , niedlich||Cute|
Neutrale Adjektive (neutral adjectives)
Negative Beschreibungen (negative descriptions)
|Blöd , dumm , doof||Stupid, dumb|
|Bescheuert , verrückt||Nuts|
Slang words to use with your Kumpels (buddies)
German slang is a breed of its own, filled with inventive words mostly used by the young and trendy for only a few years at a time until it gets stale. Jugendsprache (youth language) is distinctly recognized as its own “sublanguage” in German.
In fact since 2008, the German language publisher Langenscheidt has awarded a single word annually with the honor of Jugendwort des Jahres (youth word of the year).
Here are just a few hip slang personality words that may get you in with the youngsters.
- Geil (awesome, wicked, sexy): Geil is an oldie, but a goodie, transcending years as a multifaceted slang word that looks like it’s here to stay. Pronounced gah-eel as one syllable, the word can be used to describe anything from a fantastic situation to a smoking hot vixen on the street. Word to the wise: This word originally means “sexually aroused,” so caution is advised when using it in questionable contexts.
- Assi (antisocial, not sociable): As a shortening of Asozial (antisocial), Assi can mean someone who is unfriendly, socially awkward, avoids interactions or is simply a person everyone has agreed to dislike. It can also mean that they’re really in with the wrong crowd, and that their antisocial behavior stretches to lengths such as vandalism and dealing drugs. It’s important to listen to the context; the concept may seem a bit high school but it could also be a warning.
- Der Waschlappen / Feigling (wimp, sissy): Waschlappen and Feigling don’t need much of an explanation. Be light with your accusations, however. If someone doesn’t want to skydive off an airplane, it’s no occasion to call them a Feigling!
- Der Streber (overachiever, nerd): The Streber is a bit more difficult to directly translate to English, and it exists most commonly in the faraway high school universe, for the most part. This person is incredibly smart, a bookworm and a teacher’s pet. But unlike the quiet, humble nerd, the Streber announces his accomplishments for the world to know. The verb form streben means “to strive,” hence the title bestowed on the one who strives to be perfect in all academic disciplines.
- Der Klugscheißer / Besserwisser (know-it-all): In a simple segue we land on the know-it-all, who announces tidbits and facts for the betterment of those unfortunate enough to be listening. This word is best reserved for all the wise guys in your acquaintance.
Just remember that slang words should be reserved for informal situations with friends or family, and tend to sound a bit harsher than the normal German descriptive adjective.
What’s the Value of Describing Others?
Being able to describe people in any language enables you to formulate your own opinions and as a result bond with like-minded individuals. Not too fond of Helen? Neither is Johannes. Meet your new best friend.
Additionally, using a diverse mix of words makes it possible to flatter or insult (try to be nice!). If you truly appreciate how helpful your classmate is, tell them! Nothing makes the heart grow fonder than a heartfelt compliment about someone’s character.
For beginners, learning German personality words is a powerful tool to practice sein (to be) conjugations and adjective endings.
With just a few commonly used descriptive words like froh (happy), gemein (mean), arrogant (arrogant) and klug (smart), you’re already well on your way to creating meaningful sentences that extend beyond empty textbook examples like Hans ist ein Mann (Hans is a man). How many of you actually know a Hans?
Essentially, having power over a toolkit of German words to express yourself gives you more depth when speaking, even if you haven’t yet mastered advanced German conversation skills.
The Best Resources to Learn German Adjectives to Describe People
A simple Google search for German adjectives and personality words will only get you limited results to stock up your vocabulary library.
As we all know, the best way to absorb a new language is through immersion, out in the wild. Sitting in front of your computer or phone at home in a non-German-speaking country of course makes this a bit harder in practice, but there are ways around this.
Some expert ways to soak in colorful personalities include watching videos and reading opinionated pieces, such as magazines, novels and stories.
Learn adjective endings
Before diving right into the multiple-personality buffet, you ought to know a thing or two about adjective endings. As any German language learner can attest, once article endings come into the picture, German gets a whole lot messier.
Start practicing adjective endings with exercises on various German learning sites, such as YourDailyGerman or on Nthuleen. Depending on whether the person you’re describing is male or female, your article endings must change accordingly. After mastering endings, you’re ready to pop in any German adjective and get describing!
Say as the locals say with videos
Watching captioned videos can reveal more descriptive words to help express your views on your neighbors. But videos can be used for a lot more than just picking up stray words, but also for picking up on cultural norms.
There are many resources online that you can use to find videos. We’ll give you a few to get started.
One resource that you could use is the Easy German YouTube channel. Here, you can watch videos of interviewers in different German cities asking people on the street questions about various topics. These videos come with English and German subtitles edited in.
You can also use language programs that take German videos and add captions. For example, the FluentU program uses authentic German videos with interactive captions to help you learn. The captions can be used to find out more information about any word as you watch: If you click on a word, you’ll see an in-context definition, pronunciation guide, other video and sentence examples and brief grammar information.
If you want to take it up a notch, you can use movies or shows on streaming services like Netflix or Hulu, which often include captions. While you won’t be able to watch both the English and German captions at the same time, you can still use them to learn new words and cultural cues.
Get some reading practice while discovering new words
Written literature doesn’t always have to be from top-notch news sources like Die Zeit to be valuable. When it comes to learning new German adjectives to describe people, you’re more likely to pick them out of opinionated articles, columns and magazines.
Wherever judgment is passed on people is a great place to start combing through. This way, you can also get a sense of the context when vocabulary words are used. The following are some well-known German publications with tons of material online to get you started:
- Brigitte: Brigitte is your staple women’s beauty and lifestyle magazine. Found online and at newsstands in the German-speaking world, you can read anything from fitness tips to your daily horoscope.
- Neon: Neon is a magazine geared toward the 20-year-old to 35-year-old crowd. Some topics include relationships, travel, psychology and fashion. In addition, this is a fantastic place full of opinionated columns!
- Bunte: Bunte will keep you up-to-date on the latest celebrity stories and royal drama. Read all about what the press has to say about these stars’ personalities in this tabloid-style magazine.
Use these resources either as a place to pinpoint new words to or try finding some of the words listed above in action!
Now that you’ve learned 56 words to describe people in German, you can start using them in your conversations.
Remember that it’s best to stick with positive or neutral adjectives that carry pleasant connotations. The last thing you want in any new language is to offend others!
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