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22 Absurdly Long German Words

If you’re a German learner, you already know (and love) just how weird German words can get.

So if you think you’ve seen some long German words already, buckle up. Because we’ll be going over a few doozies that you probably haven’t encountered yet.


How Do German Words Get So Long

In German, there are no noun clusters—in other words, compound words and ideas are made by combining individual German words into one linked chain. No space is required between these words. A good analogy would be to compare the entire word to a series of train tracks.

Let’s start with an innocuous example: Handschuhe, which means gloves. It’s a combination of Hand (hand) and Schuhe (shoes). Okay, not too bad.

Now let’s move onto a more impressive specimen: Haustürschlüssel, which means house door key.

There are three individual nouns: Haus (house), Tür (door) and Schlüssel (key).

It makes sense when you break it down and when everything is enunciated clearly, but if you were unfamiliar with the German language, then the word can just look like a garbled jumble of letters.

German natives take great advantage of this language feature to sound succinct and exact, especially those involved in bureaucratic and political work. You’ll see what I mean in the following list.

Oftentimes in a giant German word, there’s a letter or two (such as S or N) that are squeezed in between the individual words to aid with pronunciation.

The 22 Longest German Words

1. Grundstücksverkehrsgenehmigungszuständigkeitsübertragungsverordnung

Letter count: 67
Meaning: Regulation on the delegation of authority concerning land conveyance permissions
Words: Grundstück (property) + Verkehr (traffic/communication) + Genehmigung (approval) + Zuständigkeit (authority) + Übertragung (delegation) + Verordnung (ordinance)

Watch out if you’re ever thinking of getting into German real estate—it likely means having to memorize this beast of a word.

2. Siebenhundertsiebenundsiebzigtausendsiebenhundertsiebenundsiebzig

Letter count: 65
Meaning: 777,777

Yes, using numbers is a bit of a cheat when it comes to making long German words. But hey, there may come a time when you owe 777,777 euros for some wild purchase. At that point, I’d just say sieben six times in a row rather than try to chew out this monster of a word.

3. Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz

Letter count: 63
Meaning: Beef labeling supervision duties delegation law
Words: Rindfleisch (beef) + Etikettierung (labeling) + Überwachung (monitoring/supervision) + Aufgabe (duty) + Übertragung (devolution/transfer) + Gesetz (law)

This infamous word—shortened to RkReÜAÜG—is the name of an actual regulation borne in 1999. Since the law was repealed in 2013, its name is now considered obsolete. That doesn’t mean it stopped haunting the minds of both German natives and language learners, though.

4. Sozialversicherungsfachangestelltenauszubildender

Letter count: 49
Meaning: Social security assistant trainee
Words: Sozial (social) + Versicherung (protection/security) + Fachangestellte (assistant/specialized employee) + Auszubildender (apprentice)

Seems like social insurance workers in Germany have even more work cut out for them. Chances are, an actual social security assistant wouldn’t carry this whopper on their name tag unless it was the size of a posterboard.

5. Hochleistungsflüssigkeitschromatographie

Letter count: 40
Meaning: high performance liquid chromatography
Words: Hochleistung (high performance) + Flüssigkeit (liquid) + Chromatographie (chromatography)

Seems like it’s not just German lawmakers who can get the short (or long, technically) end of the vocabulary stick. This very real term is one familiar to chemists. In English, it’s typically shortened to just HPLC.

6. Rechtsschutzversicherungsgesellschaften

Letter count: 39
Meaning: insurance companies providing legal protection
Words: Recht (law) + Schutz (protection) + Versicherung (insurance/protection) + Gesellschaften (companies)

Believe it or not, you’ll probably see this word more often than you think. Perhaps it won’t be spoken often in typical conversation, but it can pop up from time to time within the text of important documents.

7. Kraftfahrzeughaftpflichtversicherung

Letter count: 36
Meaning: Motor vehicle liability insurance
Words: Kraftfahrzeug (automobile) + Haftpflicht (liability) + Versicherung (insurance)

Admittedly, this term is often shortened to Kfz-Haftpflichtversicherung. Yet in 2003, it was awarded the longest word in the German dictionary, known as the Duden. So if you’re in Germany and checking the market for a car, this term is critical to know.

8. Mietschuldenfreiheitsbescheinigung

Letter count: 34
Meaning: certification of debt freedom
Words: Miet (rental) + Schulden (debts) + Freiheit (Freedom) + Bescheinigung (certificate)

This is one that every renter should know if they ever decide to move out to another space. It’s basically a note from an ex-landlord confirming that the potential tenant has paid all rent on time.

9. Arbeiterunfallversicherungsgesetz

Letter count: 33
Meaning: Workers’ compensation insurance act
Words: Arbeiter (worker) + Unfall (accident) + Versicherung (insurance) + Gesetz (law)

I wasn’t kidding when I said German lawmakers are mostly responsible for the heftiest German words. As soon as you see the word Gesetz at the end, you may be in trouble.

This one is a must-know for any businesses and employers who need to protect their employees from workplace harm.

10. Behindertengleichstellungsgesetz

Letter count: 33
Meaning: Equal Opportunities of Person with Disabilities Act
Words: Behindert (disabled) + Gleichstellung (equality) + Gesetz (law)

Since its enactment in 2002, this important regulation covers the rights of the disabled and protects them from discrimination. It’s often shortened to BGG.

11. Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz

Letter count: 33
Meaning: Federal Education and Training Assistance Act
Words: Bundes (federal) + Ausbildung (training/education) + Förderung (funding) + Gesetz (law)

Shortened to BAföG, this act was enacted in 1971 and created a government-based funding program for youths to pursue education and training for their professional goals.

12. Donaudampfschifffahrtsgesellschaft

Letter count: 33
Meaning: Danube Steamboat Shipping Company
Words: Donau (Danube) + Dampfschiff (steamboat) + Fahrt (passage) + Gesellschaft (company)

A real shipping company created in 1829 by Austrian officials, the DDSG still exists today as two entities. 

13. Rheinmaindonaugroßschifffahrtsweg

Letter count: 33
Meaning: Rhine-Main-Danube shipping lane
Words: Rhein (Rhine) + Main (Main) + Donau (Danube) + Großschifffahrt (heavy shipping) + Weg (way)

Another word related to the transport of goods over the ever-important Danube River! Even German folks aren’t too pleased with how jumbled this word is—it commonly includes hyphens to make its reading slightly easier, like so: Rhein-Main-Donau-Großschifffahrtsweg.

14. Nahrungsmittelunverträglichkeit

Letter count: 32
Meaning: food intolerance
Words: Nahrungsmittel (foodstuffs) + Unverträglichkeit (intolerance)

A long word for something so vital for everyday life. Anyone with food allergies should learn this term before going into a German restaurant. Pay careful attention to that second half—it can be quite hard to pronounce quickly, and this is one thing you don’t want to mess up saying.

15. Straßenverkehrszulassungsordnung

Letter count: 32
Meaning: Road Traffic Licensing Regulation
Words: Straßen (streets) + Verkehr (traffic) + Zulassung (approval/admission) + Ordnung (order)

Not to be rude, but for something that’s supposed to be involved in regulating traffic, its name sure looks like its own alphabet traffic jam.

16. Lebensversicherungsgesellschaft

Letter count: 31
Meaning: life insurance company
Words: Leben (life) + Versicherung (insurance) + Gesellschaft (company)

Looking for life insurance in Germany? Have fun typing this into Google search!

17. Steuervergünstigungsabbaugesetz

Letter count: 31
Meaning: Tax Preference Reduction Act
Words: Steuer (tax) + Vergünstigung (perk) + Abbau (reduction) + Gesetz (law)

Thankfully, this behemoth can just be shortened to StVergAbG. Although, it visibly doesn’t seem like much of an improvement, does it?

18. Freundschaftsbeziehungen

Letter count: 24
Meaning: friendship relationships
Words: Freundschaft (friendship) + Beziehungen (relationship)

A long, somewhat redundant word for a simple concept. If you value your friendship enough that you’re willing to use this term to describe it, then I’d wager you’re a true friend indeed.

19. Lebensabschnittspartner

Letter count: 24
Meaning: significant other / life partner
Words: Leben (life) + Abschnitt (stage) + Partner (partner)

Because how else would you refer to your lovely sir or madam? Such an important person deserves a wordy title (but really, you can just say Partner if it’s too much of a mouthful and I’m sure he or she won’t mind).

20. Unabhängigkeitserklärung

Letter count: 24
Meaning: declaration of independence
Words: Unabhängigkeit (independence) + Erklärung (declaration)

No doubt, your tongue might trip over those umlauts. For a word that refers to a bold declaration, it can be incredibly easy to mispronounce if said out loud.

21. Streichholzschächtelchen

Letter count: 24
Meaning: little box of matches
Words: Streichholz (matchstick) + Schächtel (box) + chen (diminutive)

A lot of harsh onslaught of sounds, all just to refer to a small matchbox. Maybe asking for a lighter would be a better option.

22. Betäubungsmittelgesetz

Letter count: 23
Meaning: narcotics act
Words: Betäubungsmittel (narcotics) + Gesetz (law)

This law’s name is often shortened to BtMG. As it should be.


In all seriousness though, I guarantee that the vocabulary you learn here will come into use one day. Or at the very least, these words will help you improve your German pronunciation.

If you’re a German learner, I hope this post allured you even more to this wonderful language.

And if you’re not at all familiar with German, well, I hope this didn’t intimidate you too much.

And One More Thing...

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