German False Friends

There may be some words that you think you can easily translate from German to English, either because the words look similar or because they are written the same way in English as they are in German. Don’t be fooled though! There are some words in German that you may think you know the meaning of, but you don´t!
Here’s a list of some ‘German false friends’
• Chef: this is a tricky one, we all understand the meaning of ‘Chef’ as someone that is in charge in a kitchen or a cook; but translated to German this really means ‘Boss’, so for example you would say ‘he’s the chef of the company’
• Mist: this written in English means ‘fog’ but in German this word is used as a curse word (translated to English it could mean ‘Crap’)
• Gift: this is also a tricky word, but in German this actually means ‘venom’
Can you come up with another false friend? Leave them in the comments below!


Another tricky word is “Handy”. “handy” in English is an adjective and means smart or skilled, but the noun “Handy” in German (even they pronounce it the English style) is actually a cell phone. :exploding_head:


It’s not exactly the same word, but I think “bekommen” can be quite confusing at first, because of course we interpret it as “become”, when it actually means “receive” (“become” would be “werden”).

And “spenden” is also interesting, because it is used in the same area in both languages, so to speak, but have different meanings. While in English it means to use money to buy things, in German it means to donate :moneybag:


There are a few more false friends I encountered.

Brief=letter vs kurz=brief

brav= well behaved vs tapfer= brave

Gymnasium=secondary school vsTurnhalle= gymnasium

Kraft= strengths vs basteln= crafts

fast= almost vs schnell= fast

Of course this goes both ways…
Germans learning English need to be careful when ordering a steak.
In Germany a rare steak is called “blutig”.
That of course doesn’t mean they should order a bloody steak…