A couple of charming German words

I sat down a few minutes ago and flipped through a few pages of Using German Vocabulary, not really looking for anything in particular – just enjoying seeing new words, really. I landed in a section on the animal word. Looking over some of the words for animals and their associated parts, a couple of the words made me genuinely smile: das Nashorn, and der Stoßzahn.


Das Nashorn is basically “nose horn”, if you take the elements apart, and means rhinoceros. Der Stoßzahn is a little trickier. Der Stoß can mean a push, shove, punch, as well as stab or thrust. I suppose the most menacing literal translation of Stoßzahn would be stabbing tooth. To me, that has so much more character than tusk. 🙂

By |2008-01-18T19:41:29+00:00January 18th, 2008|German, Language Journal, Vocabulary|3 Comments


  1. anka January 23, 2008 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    my personal favorite is die Sehenswu:rdigkeiten: things worthy of seing, monuments, and der Denkmal: a statue/monument, when denk(e) may mean “think”, and “mal” is either once, or an expressive particle; all in all Denkmal appears to be something, like: “you! think about it for once!” quite fitting

  2. Josh January 24, 2008 at 8:05 am - Reply

    Yeah, I just recently met Sehenswürdigkeit, in the same book actually. I thought it was an interesting one.

    Denkmal might be made up of denken (think), and Mal – the noun, not the time adverb / participle. Das Mal can mean brand, mark, sign, or memorial, monument.

    However, I’m not really sure whether das Mal stemmed from the adverb / participle mal. It’d be cool if it did, because then your “Think about it for once!” description would still hold. 🙂

  3. anka January 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    I never said it is linguistically correct, I just use it as a memo technique 🙂

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