10 Unique and Fun Swiss German Slang Words and Phrases
How do you know when you’ve mastered a language?
I think it’s when you know some slang and are able to use it in your writing and conversations.
If you’ve already learned some German slang and want to expand your vocabulary, you could try turning your attention to Swiss German slang.
Whether you’re going to Switzerland to study or just to travel around for a while, this Alpine nation has exciting things to offer students and travelers alike—including some fun and unique slang!
- 1. Znüni (Second breakfast)
- 2. Merci Vilmal (Thanks a lot)
- 3. Chrüsimüsi (A mess/hodgepodge)
- 4. Eis go zieh (Go for a drink)
- 5. Löli (Idiot)
- 6. Ich zäigä wo dä Bartli dä moscht holt (I’ll show you who’s boss)
- 7. Füdleblutt (Butt naked)
- 8. Bünzli (Narc/Goody two shoes/Square)
- 9. Fränkli (A Swiss franc)
- 10. Chunsch druus? (Do you understand?/Got it? )
- Where to Learn More
- And One More Thing...
1. Znüni (Second breakfast)
In Switzerland, the average working day runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., which is 10 full hours. To take it down to a more manageable eight hours, there are two hours of breaks throughout the day. You can’t have your Znüni at any old time—it’s meant to be eaten at around 9 a.m.: Zu = at, Nüün = nine.
The Znüni is often seen as a second breakfast, and most people will simply have a strong cup of coffee to wake them up and a small snack to keep them going till lunchtime. One very popular early morning snack for most people in Switzerland is the Gipfeli. This is a Swiss croissant—they taste just like French croissants, but are heavier in texture.
As Znüni is a uniquely Swiss German slang term, there isn’t a German equivalent. However, if you’re in Germany and need a break, you’d just use the word Pause (break).
Ohne mein Znüni verlasse ich das Haus nicht!
(I don’t leave the house without my second breakfast!)
2. Merci Vilmal (Thanks a lot)
Switzerland doesn’t just have one official language. In fact, it has four—German, French, Italian and Romansh. The majority of Swiss speak German on an everyday basis but the other three languages have had a huge influence on Swiss German. Just take the slang phrase of merci vilmal (thanks a lot), for example.
As you can see, merci vilmal is a mix of French and German. The French word for thank you, merci , is used alongside vilmal . This vilmal comes from the German word for “a lot,” but you’ll probably have seen it spelled as vielmals. That’s because vielmals is the Hochdeutsch (standard German) version—how you’ll see it written in the Duden dictionary. Vilmal is the Swiss German slang version!
Merci vilmal für alles!
(Thanks so much for everything!)
3. Chrüsimüsi (A mess/hodgepodge)
What initially sounds like an off-brand muesli you might find tucked away in the corner of Lidl, turns out to be a rather fun way of describing a difficult or tumultuous situation.
Whether describing a bitter love triangle or simply a kitchen disaster, you’ll at least be able to enjoy how this phrase rhymes with itself.
Was für en Chrüsimüsi!
(What a mess!)
4. Eis go zieh (Go for a drink)
Every country has its own set of words and phrases that are heavily linked to its drinking culture. And Switzerland is certainly no different!
If you’re at work and a colleague asks you if you want to eis go zieh, they’re asking if you would like to go for a drink after the hard working day!
The German equivalent of this would be: Gehen wir was trinken? But instead of drinking, the Swiss Germans instead use the verb “to pull,” ziehen. So pull your favorite tipple close to your lips and let the good times roll!
Gömmer eis go zieh?
(Shall we go for a drink?)
5. Löli (Idiot)
Just like every language has terms that are linked to its drinking culture, each country has slang words that poke fun at people. Löli is one Swiss slang term that people use in a lighthearted way to make fun of each other. The closest translation in English is “boob” or “idiot,” and the standard German equivalent would be Tölpel or more simply Dummkopf .
Ach, du Löli!
(Oh, you idiot!)
6. Ich zäigä wo dä Bartli dä moscht holt (I’ll show you who’s boss)
Rather than just one single slang word, we’ve got a whole phrase here! Ich zäigä wo dä Bartli dä moscht holt is literally translated as “I’ll show you where Bartli goes to get the cider.”
But, of course, that isn’t really what it means—it’s usually translated as “I’ll show you who’s boss.” This slang phrase is also used in Germany, but there you’d hear it as Ich zeige dir wo Barthel den Most holt. You might want to use this phrase at work if someone new starts.
Linguists can’t come to an agreement about where this phrase comes from. However, the majority believe that it originated in the 17th century.
7. Füdleblutt (Butt naked)
If you’re sporting your birthday suit, you’re füdleblutt!
This phrase is almost exactly the same as the English term, as füdle means your “butt,” and blutt is “naked.”
You can also use this phrase as a tongue-in-cheek intensifier in phrases like: “es isch der füdleblutt wahnsinn!” (It’s absolute lunacy!)
Ich fühle mich füdleblutt ohne Handy!
(I feel like I’m butt naked without my phone!)
8. Bünzli (Narc/Goody two shoes/Square)
We have lots of slang terms for people who religiously stick to the rules no matter what, such as words like “narc” and “goody two shoes.” The Swiss have a word with a similar meaning—Bünzli.
If you ask a Swiss person to describe a Bünzli, they’ll probably say that a Bünzli has lots of garden gnomes and is constantly peeking out from behind their curtains to see what the neighbors are up to. They’re the first people to report any suspicious goings-on to the police, no matter how small the issue is!
Again, it’s hard to determine where the word originates from, but most people think it’s based on the Swiss last name Bünzli. Franz Bünzli, a Swiss MP from the 19th century, is probably the most famous person with the last name.
Tu das nicht, der Bünzli nebenan wird’s sehen.
(Don’t do that, the narc next door will see.)
9. Fränkli (A Swiss franc)
When you’re out shopping and spending money in Switzerland, you’ll probably come across the word Fränkli. This is just a nickname for the Swiss franc.
In standard German, a franc is called a Franken . Fränkli is simply the diminutive version of this word—to make a diminutive in Swiss German, you simply add “-li” to the end of a word. In this case, an umlaut has also been added to the “a.”
I’ve previously mentioned that Swiss German has many influences from Swiss French and Swiss Italian, and this works in the other direction as well. Many linguists believe that the word Fränkli has influenced the Swiss Italian nickname for a franc— franchetto . That’s because “-etto” is added to create diminutives in Swiss Italian.
Die Tageskarte hat 65 Fränkli gekostet.
(The day ticket cost 65 Francs.)
10. Chunsch druus? (Do you understand?/Got it? )
That’s the final Swiss slang phrase, this is what you say if you want to ask whether someone has understood something you just said.
You might be really scratching your head with this one, as it seems very far from its German counterpart: Hast du das verstanden? . But you’ll impress any Swiss-Germans in the vicinity if you use it!
You can see it used in this video!
Where to Learn More
These slang terms should be enough to get you started on learning to chat more comfortably with Swiss German speakers.
But like most aspects of language, dialects and slang are always shifting and evolving over time. Keeping up with current slang in Swiss German or any dialect can take some effort. It helps to be engaged with German media and current events.
Reading German articles or watching German TV are great ways to increase your vocabulary and keep up with German slang. In particular, videos on YouTube are helpful for finding speech specifically from Swiss German speakers or any other German topics that interest you.
Another resource for media-based learning is the language learning program FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
The internet is a boundless resource for current Swiss German slang, particularly if you seek out content by native speakers on video streaming services and social media. As you peruse Swiss videos and posts, see if you recognize any of the slang from our list!
Now that you have a few key Swiss slang words and expressions in the barrel, you’re ready to hang out with Swiss German speakers and converse like a local!
And One More Thing...
Want to know the key to learning German effectively?
It's using the right content and tools, like FluentU has to offer! Browse hundreds of videos, take endless quizzes and master the German language faster than you've ever imagine!
Watching a fun video, but having trouble understanding it? FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive subtitles.
You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don't know, you can add it to a vocabulary list.
And FluentU isn't just for watching videos. It's a complete platform for learning. It's designed to effectively teach you all the vocabulary from any video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you're on.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you're learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn German with real-world videos.