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9 Made-Up Words That Perfectly Describe The Human Condition

There’s something so satisfying about a good German word. As The Awl entertainingly demonstrated with their spot-on “There Oughta Be a German Word For This” column, German words somehow define complex human emotions in a way that English words often can't or don't. Must be all those awesome suffixes.

Ben Scott (of Schott’s Miscellany fame) has a new book out this week with 120 new German words perfectly tailored to plug your linguistic holes. They range from the practical (Scheidungskreidekreisprove: the distribution of friends after a divorce) to the morbid (Insterblichkeitstod: intimations of mortality when your last surviving parent dies), but mostly they just do a bang-up job of reminding us how inadequate the English language really is.

Some favorites:


hairbst-laowb - tritt-fair-gnuu-ghen

Definition: "Kicking through piles of leaves"

Literal Translation: Autumn-Foliage-Strike-Fun

Why we love it: Because let’s be honest, that leaf-crunching sound indicates that at least a miniscule bit of warmth still lingers in the air. 


air-kent-niss - shpah-tseer-gahng

Definition: "A perambulation taken with the specific intention of contemplation"

Literal Translation: Cognition-Stroll 

Why we love it: There’s already a word for this in French (flâneurie) but one term simply cannot satiate the hordes of sad young literary men who prowl the city at night, searching for grand inspiration. 


ihr-reh-ahf-fen - tit-en - toor-boh - zoo-per-doo-per - toop

Definition: "Simpatico"

Literal Translation: Mad-Monkey-Tits-Turbo-Super-Duper-Guy

Why we love it: No explanation necessary.




Definition: "Coveting thy neighbor's restaurant order" 

Literal Translation: Meal-Envy 

Why we love it: The lobster mac and cheese sounded horrifyingly fatty when you read it on the menu, but now that your date has it, it just looks freaking delicious. 


dorn - hoos-sh'yen - shlahf

Definition: "Feigning sleep to avoid unwanted sexual intimacy" 

Literal Translation: Thorny-Lingerie-Sleep 

Why we love it: I have never done this, but surely some people have, and they must need a word for such behavior.


shvee-gher-moot-ter - kuhr-fen - lahng-hahls 

Defintion: "The morbid urge to slow down and stare at a road accident" 

Literal Translation: Mother-In-Law-Bend-Long-Neck 

Why we love it: Also called Gaper Delay, Rubber-necking, and/or Being That Asshole Who Made My Premiums Skyrocket.


ex-tra-voorst-tahgs - ghe-fuul

Defintion: "An irrational sensation of specialness on your birthday" 

Literal Translation: Bonus-Sausage-Day-Feeling 

Why we love it: It isn’t irrational at all. After all, it’s your BIRTHDAY. But still, it's nice to have a phrase to toss at some other assclown who thinks he/she is special for having been born, just like the rest of us were.


shlahf - shoh-vee

Definition: "One who takes pride in getting little sleep" 

Literal Translation: Sleep-Macho 

Why we love it: These people are just as bad as the folks who say things like “Oh, I must have forgotten to eat lunch.”



Definition: "The exhausting trudge up a stationary escalator" 

Literal Translation: Escalator-Schlep 

Why we love it: Because, for unknown reasons, it’s harder than walking up a flight of steps. 

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