List of terms used for Germans

List of terms used for Germans

There are many alternative ways to describe the people of Germany, though in English the official designated nationality as well as the standard noun is German. (see also demonym). During the early Renaissance, "German" implied that the person spoke German as a native language. Until German unification, people living in what is now Germany were named for the region they lived in, examples include Bavarians, Brandenburgers and Hanoverians. Some other terms are humorous or derogatory slang, and used mainly by people from other countries, although they can be used in a self-deprecating way by German people themselves. Other terms are serious or tongue-in-cheek attempts to coin words as alternatives to the ambiguous standard terms.



Dutch (obsolete)

Initially the word Dutch could refer to any Germanic-speaking area, language or people, deriving from Deutsch, which means "German" in German. For example:

  • The Chronography and History of the whole world, Vol. II (1677) mentions the mathematician that "...the Dutch call Leibnitz," adding that Dutch is spoken in the parts of Hungary adjoining to Germany.[1]
  • Versions of the traditional drinking song "Drunk last night" include the lyrics: "Oh, there's the Amsterdam Dutch and the Rotterdam Dutch / The Potsdam Dutch and the other damned Dutch"

The phrase "Pennsylvania Dutch" is a corruption of the German word for German, "Deutsch". To this day, descendants of German immigrants who resettled in Pennsylvania continue to refer to themselves as Pennsylvania Dutch. They may identify themselves as being Pennsylvania German, too. Some may or may not be members of the plain sects found in southeastern Pennsylvania, which includes the Amish.

Today, aside from that exception, the word Dutch is only used to refer to the people of the Netherlands or their Dutch language.

Almain (obsolete/poetical)

Almain is a historical term for Germans (often specifically the ones living in the South of Germany) borrowed from French and ultimately comes from the Latin name for the Germanic tribe of the Alamanni. It was used alongside "Dutch" but unlike Dutch had a more limited meaning. It fell out of use when "German" was introduced but remained a poetical term (like Teuton) for quite a while.

Hun (derogatory)

United States Navy recruitment poster from 1917 depicting an anthropomorphised Germany.

Hun (or The Hun) is a term used in reference to the medieval Hunnic Empire of Attila the Hun. This term was used heavily during World War I and was often seen on Allied war posters.

The origin of the term was the notorious Hunnenrede (Hun speech) of Emperor Wilhelm II on 27 July 1900, when he bade farewell to the German expeditionary corps sailing from Bremerhaven to defeat the Boxer Uprising. The relevant part of the speech was:[2]

"Kommt ihr vor den Feind, so wird derselbe geschlagen! Pardon wird nicht gegeben! Gefangene werden nicht gemacht! Wer euch in die Hände fällt, sei euch verfallen! Wie vor tausend Jahren die Hunnen unter ihrem König Etzel sich einen Namen gemacht, der sie noch jetzt in Überlieferung und Märchen gewaltig erscheinen läßt, so möge der Name Deutscher in China auf 1000 Jahre durch euch in einer Weise bestätigt werden, daß es niemals wieder ein Chinese wagt, einen Deutschen scheel anzusehen!"

Trans: "When you meet the enemy, he will be defeated! No quarter will be given! No prisoners will be taken! Those who fall into your hands are forfeit to you! Just as a thousand years ago, the Huns under their King Etzel made a name for themselves that make them appear awe-inspiring in tradition and myth, so shall you establish the name of Germans in China for a 1000 years, so that a Chinese will never again dare to look askance at a German."

The theme of Hunnic savagery was then developed in a speech of August Bebel in the Reichstag in which he recounted details of the cruelty of the German expedition which were taken from soldiers' letters home, styled the Hunnenbriefe (letters from the Huns).[3]

The Kaiser's speech was widely reported in the European press and then became the basis for the characterisation of the Germans during World War I as barbarians and savages with no respect for European civilisation and humanitarian values.[4]

Fritz (offensive)

British soldiers employed a variety of epithets for the Germans. "Fritz" was popular in both World War I and World War II,[5] with "Jerry" favoured in the latter.

Heinie (offensive)

The Americans and Canadians referred to Germans, especially German soldiers as "Heinies", from the pet form of the common German male proper name Heinrich.[6]

In the film 1941 the Slim Pickens character calls a German Officer "Mr. Hynee Kraut!"

In Codename: Kids Next Door, Numbuh 5 ((Aka Abigail Lincoln)) oftens calling her German candy-loving rival/best friend Heinrich/Henrietta Von Marzipan "Heinie", and he/she calling her "Liebchen" Which is meaning "Sweetheart" in German.

Heini is actually a common German colloquial term with a slightly derogatory meaning similar to moron or idiot, but it could be of different origin.


Stahlhelm, said by the British to resemble a chamberpot

Jerry was a nickname given to Germans during the Second World War by soldiers and civilians of the Allied nations, in particular by the British. Although the nickname was originally created during World War I,[7] it did not find common use until World War II.[7]

Jerry has analogues from different eras in Tommy (British), Charlie (Vietnam—"Victor Charlie" for VC (Viet Cong), later shortened to just "Charlie"), Sammy (Somalia) and Ivan (Russians).

The name is most likely a simple alteration of the word German. Some have claimed that the World War I German helmet, shaped like a chamber pot or jeroboam, was the initial impetus for creation, although this is almost certainly revisionist history[citation needed]. One ongoing use of "jerry" is found in the term jerrycan.

After World War II, settlements and camps sprang up around British garrisons in the former West Germany, and the colloquial term of "Boxhead" became common amongst British troops and their families. This term has its origins in "square-heads" as a reference to the almost square-shaped helmets used by the Germans in both world wars.

Also the term "Jerry-rigged" (an adapted form of the much older nautical term "jury rig") was adopted by many allied troops and became a common term that transferred into everyday usage. The term was given for how some of the German equipment was maintained during the latter parts of the Second World War.[citation needed] As Hitler's war machine was breaking down, lack of supplies meant that the equipment had to be held together in a patchwork fashion. As Allied troops came across abandoned vehicles and machinery they could see shoddy workmanship used to hold the machinery together. Since the German soldiers were already known as Jerrys the term Jerry-rigged seemed fitting. (See also "jerry-built")

Recently the term "Eric" has become popular amongst British troops, originating from an episode of the British TV comedy Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, in which the name "Eric" was used instead of "Jerry" in an attempt to confuse some Germans who were fluent in English.

Kraut (offensive)

Since World War II, Kraut has, in the English language, come to be used as a derogatory term for a German. This is probably based on sauerkraut, which was very popular in German cuisine at that time. The stereotype of the sauerkraut-eating German pre-dates this, as it appears in Jules Verne's depiction of the evil German industrialist Schultze as an avid sauerkraut eater in "The Begum's Millions."

One possible explanation of the origin of this term is this: Raw sauerkraut is an excellent source of vitamin C. Captain James Cook always took a store of sauerkraut on his sea voyages, since experience had taught him that it was an effective remedy against scurvy. Later, on British ships, sauerkraut was replaced by lime juice (for the same purpose). German sailors continued with the use of kraut, calling their British colleagues "limeys" and being themselves called "krauts."[original research?]

In "War and Peace" when the Russians are preparing a pre-dawn march to counter a French outflank maneuver, amid the chaos in the fog, Tolstoi says that the Russian troops felt if there was a slip up, it would certainly be attributed to the "stupid Germans, and everyone was convinced that a dangerous muddle had been occasioned by the sausuge eaters." War and Peace Book 3 Chapter 14

The rock music genre krautrock has been commonplace in music journalism since the early 1970s and is of English invention; it is not considered offensive.

In the Fawlty Towers episode The Germans, Basil performed an Adolf Hitler impersonation. When the German guests asked him to stop, Basil exclaimed "I'm trying to cheer her up, you stupid kraut!"

Nazi (derogatory and highly offensive)

The nickname of the National Socialist political party that ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945. Used as a derogatory term for Germans in general or for people/items originating from Germany; for example, referring to a German-made automobile as a "Nazi-mobile". It is also used for non-German people who act in an authoritarian manner such as the "Soup Nazi" in the show Seinfeld; or as "clipboard Nazi", a person questioning strangers or controlling access into celebrity events.[8]

Teuton (poetic)

In a more poetical sense Germans can be referred to as "Teutons". The usage of the word in this term has been observed in English since 1833. The word originated via an ancient Germanic tribe, the Teutons.[9] - see also Teutonic and the Teutonic Order.

Boche (derogatory)

Pronounced [boʃ], boche is a term used in World War I, often collectively ("the Boche" meaning "the Germans"). A shortened form of the French slang portmanteau alboche, itself derived from Allemand ("German") and caboche ("head" or "cabbage"). Also spelled "Bosch" or "Bosche".[10][11]

Rhine Monkey (derogatory)

Adaptation of the taxonomic "platyrrhine monkey" referring to monkeys of the New World (characterized by nostrils which are rounded and are oriented towards their ears as opposed to Old World monkeys whose nostrils are oriented downwards).

Other countries


Piefke (offensive)

The Austrian ethnophaulism for a German is Piefke. Like its Bavarian counterpart Saupreiß (literally: sow-Prussian) the term Piefke historically characterized the people of Prussia only. Its exact origin is unclear, but it was meant to be derogatory most notably because of the term's Polish roots: Referring to every Prussian as Piefke, which is a typical example of a Germanized Polish family name (Piwka),[12] suggested that all Prussians were merely Germanized Poles. The term increased in usage during the 19th century because of the popularity of the Prussian composer Johann Gottfried Piefke. Since Prussia and its eastern territories ceased to exist, the term now refers to the cliché of a pompous (Protestant northern) German in general and a Berliner in particular. However, the citizens of the free Hanseatic cities and the former northern duchies of Oldenburg, Brunswick and Mecklenburg are quite offended by the terms Piefke and Saupreiß (offense for every German who is not native Bavarian), since they take some pride in having staunchly resisted Prussian expansionism as independent (federal) states and have no Prussian history at all. In 1990, Austrian playwright Felix Mitterer wrote and co-directed a TV mini-series, Die Piefke-Saga, about Germans on holiday in Tyrol. Sometimes the alteration "Piefkineser" is used, or "Marmeladinger" (probably because Germans call jam Marmelade while Austrians will speak of Konfitüre.) Some Austrians use the playful term "Piefkinesisch" (Pief-Chinese) to refer to German spoken in a distinctly German (not Austrian) accent.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Nijemac (standard, formal term)

Nijemac (Нијемац, plural: Nijemci, Нијемци) is a word for German(s) in all three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina: Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian. Word "Nijemac" is derived from the word "nijem" meaning mute, dumb but in modern usage does not have any emotional connotation.

Švabo (slang, very informal term)

In slang, word "švabo" (швабо, plural: švabe, швабе) is used in a sense that is not considered very offensive although this word was frequently used in context of describing Nazis in films about World War II and Yugoslav Partisans, see Partisan film. Word "švabo" means Swabian, coming from the name for Germans who lived in the former Kingdom of Hungary, especially in the Danube, see Danube Swabians.

Brazil and Portugal

Alemão (descriptive and most common)

From Latin Alemannī, of Germanic origin; related to Gothic alamans a totality of people. Alemão bravo, Alemão brigão, Querela de alemão, from French expression Querelle d'allemand, a contention about trifles, soon provoked and soon appeased. Association with people who start fighting for no reason. Rigor alemão and Rigidez/Disciplina alemã make reference to the Teutonic discipline.

Boche (offensive)

In Portugal, the term Boche, a word derived from 2nd World War French word, is popular as a slang term to refer to Germans, nearly always in a derogatory way.

Bratwurst (jocose)

Jocosely used. Just like spaghetti is used for Italians.

Chucrute, Chucrutes or Sauerkraut (derogatory)

Related to English Kraut and French choucroute. Mostly used in Brazil to designate late 19th and early 20th century German, Austrian and Swiss immigrants.

Fritz, Fritzin/Hans/Klaus/Lars (colloquialism)

Mostly in Brazil. From German masculine proper names. Not especially polite, but not offensive either.

Germânico (descriptive and only as an adjective)

From the Latin exonymic demonym Germanus, and toponym Germania.

Germano (descriptive)

It can refer to the ancient tribes found by the Romans or to modern Germans. Especially used in expressions like Germano-brasileiro, Germano-brasiliense, Germano-brasiliano, meaning German Brazilian.

Godo/Visigodo/Suevo/Vândalo (historically descriptive and jocose)

Relative to the Goths, Visigoths, Suebi and Vandals. Occasionally used in a jocose way, to designate Germans, especially in expressions such as Visigodo derrubador de porta de castelo and Suevo do aríete, rompe muralhas, making reference to the Barbarian Invasions. From Latin Gothī, Visigothī, Suevus and Vandallus, all of Germanic origin.

Huno (historical and offensive)

I.e. "Hun". Used by Brazilian soldiers in the World War II. Related from Italian word.

Kaiser boch/Schoppen bier/Bier garten (jocose)

Expressions that may have a jocose connotation in reference to a drunkard German.

Strudel/Pretzel (jocose)

Strudel and pretzel are used to express an attractive German descendant in the same way that terms like pão and pão-de-ló, sugarloaf varieties, are used for pretty people.

Teutão (descriptive/poetical)

Relative to the Teutons and is still used occasionally in a non-official way, to designate Germans. From Latin Teutonī, the Teutons, of Germanic origin.

Teuto (descriptive, used as a noun or as an adjective)

Especially used in the expressions Teuto-brasileiro, Teuto-brasílio, Teuto-brasiliano, also meaning German Brazilian.

Teutónico/Teutônico (descriptive, only as an adjective and literary)

From Latin Teutonī, the Teutons, of Germanic origin.

Tedesco or Tudesco (descriptive, only as an adjective and literary)

Cognate with Deutsch. Used by Brazilian soldiers in the World War II.


Nemtsi (neutral, official)

("Nemets" in singular) is from common Slavic etymology, meaning "mute, i.e. whose speech is not understandable.

Shvabi (offensive)

Shvabi ("Shvaba" in singular, derived from Swabian) is an offensive word for Germans, which has replaced the derogatory "fritsove".

Fritsove (derogatory)

Fritsove ("frits" in singular) is a derogatory word for Germans that was widely used among the opponents of Germany, of which Bulgaria was an ally during both world wars. It was in use mostly during the first half of the 20th century, but it is rarely used nowadays.

Prusatsi (derogatory)

In singular "Prusak", derived from Prussian, is a rarely used term for Germans, which bears mostly negative connotations.


Švabe (friendly)

from Swabian—see Danube Swabians for more. The word also applies to, and is often adopted as a nickname by Croatian Gastarbeiters. Strangely, the normal word for an ethnic German, or a German citizen, Nijemac, originally means "one who can't speak" ("nijem" means "mute"), but, it is not a slur at all, it's just a normal word, the only one, for an ethnic German/German citizen. Meanwhile, Švabo should be an ethnonym (and, in fact, the most of German speaking people the Croats and Serbs historically have had close contacts with had indeed been of Swabian origin).

Czech Republic

Němec (official term)

From the Slavic etymology, meaning "mute".

Skopčák (colloquialism)

Originally meaning "the one who came from the hills". In medieval times, German inhabitants in Czech-German borderlands often lived in hilly, mountainous areas, and when they came to lowland Czech towns to buy and sell their wares, they were addressed as "those who came down from hills". "From hills" is "z kopců" in Czech, thus "skopčáci" (plural). When English language books and movies concerning World War II are translated to Czech, "Skopčák" is often used to translate "Jerry" or "Kraut".


Frits (colloquialism)

From the German name "Friedrich", it has been used for German soldiers. It is considered as colloquial, not very polite, but not offensive either.

Saks (historical, sometimes offensive)

Similar to the word sakslane ("German"), it was originally used for Germans, Saxons more precisely, but was later mostly used for German nobility in Estonia. Since then it has been offensively used for ethnic Estonian nobility. It is still sometimes used for Germans.


Fritz, Günter, Helmut, Horst (colloquialism)

A variety of German first names that are perceived typical are used. They are considered as colloquial, not very polite, but not very offensive either.

Hapankaali (offensive)

Literally sauerkraut, used in similar fashion than Kraut in English.

Hunni (derogatory)

Literally Hun. Derogatory, containing allusions to Lapland War and sack of Lapland. Rarely used, today rather influenced by the English usage.

Nahkahousu (jocose)

Literally lederhose (or someone who wears them), similar to spaghetti for Italians and rather common.

Natsi (derogatory)

The same as Nazi in English, quite common.

Niksmanni (offensive)

From German language negative word nichts/nix (nothing) and -manni for "man". Rarely used.

Saku, Saksmanni, Sakemanni (inoffensive to slightly offensive)

From the Finnish word Saksa, meaning Germany (originally Saxony). Saku is a Finnish male name; sakemanni is a combination of "Saksa + -manni, referring to "man". Especially sakemanni is relatively common.


Boches (offensive, historical)

Apheresis of the word alboche, which in turn is a blend of allemand (French for German) and caboche (slang for head). Used mainly during the First and Second World Wars, and directed especially at German soldiers.[13]

Chleuh (slightly offensive)

From the name of the Chleuh, a North African ethnicity - a term with racial connotations. It also denotes the absence of words beginning in Schl- in French. It was used mainly in World War II (for example, in the film Inglourious Basterds) but is also used now in a less offensive way like in the film Taxi.

Doryphores (offensive, historical)

Doryphore means Colorado potato beetle in French. This term was used during World War II, but is less common than Boche, Fritz or Frisés. It refers to the fact that the Germans during the Occupation took large part of the production of France's agriculture and industry.

Fritz (offensive, historical)

From the German Christian name, used since World War I. Frisés and Fridolins are variations of Fritz.


Relative to the Teutons and is still used occasionally in a non-official way, to designate Germans. In the standard High German language Teutsch is an archaic way of rendering Deutsch, with the same meaning (often translated as "Teutonic").


Tedesco (official)

In Italian, although Germany is called Germania, German is tedesco.

Crucco (offensive)

The common (especially Northern) Italian ethnophaulism for a German is crucco, which roughly translates as pighead. Etymologically, the term most likely derives from the Croatian word kruh, which means bread, because Austria-Hungary sent people of Croatian descent to garrison its Italian dominions. In World War II Italian soldiers originally referred to the Yugoslavian combatants as crucchi and the North-Eastern war zone was dubbed terra crucca. In the course of the war the term underwent a shift of meaning: During the German invasion the Italian partisans called the German soldiers crucchi. Today it's a disrespectful way to address people from all German speaking regions in general (cruccolandia), even the German-speaking population of the province of South Tyrol, who are themselves Italian citizens.

Tetesken (colloquialism)

It is simply the Italian word for "German"(Tedesco), purposefully corrupted in a comic way by pseudo-German stylization. Even if not really rude, it is not considered a polite thing to say in front of a German, because it derides German "harsh-sounding" pronunciation, and implies a low knowledge of Italian language.

Mangiapatate (offensive)

Translated as potato eaters, this slightly offensive term refers to the alleged German habit of eating potatoes at every meal. It is in current usage with ordinary people and it is sometimes used in dubbed feature films as a translation for "Krauts".

Mangiacrauti (offensive)

Literally "kraut (cabbage) eater(s)", sometimes use even with "wurstel", because of the cliché of the "kraut-and-wurstel-eater beer-drinker German"


It refers to their, supposed, eating habit/cuisine. It comes from the German word for potatoes (Kartoffeln).


Every so often used in the emphatic slang of the football commentaries: la squadra teutonica (as the German team), i giocatori teutonici or i teutonici (as the German players). Although not exactly derogatory (many nations are jocularly identified in Italy with their ancestors), it conveys some unwelcome associations because as an adjective, "teutonico" defines rigid, pernickety, inflexible attitudes. (camposanto teutonico a graveyard behind the St. Peters in the vatican)


Only used in old-fashioned poetic language. It is the Italian adjective for "Teutons", a Germanic tribe, but it's also used to describe all the German population.


This term applies to all German speakers.


More used as adjective, doesn't mean "German", but "Germanic" (either historic and meliorative), similar to other expressions like "Italic", "Gallic", etc.(sometimes hironical about fascist retorical propaganda, in which "Germanico"(Germanic) was preferred to "Tedesco"(German)).

"Germanico" (pl. germanici) is frenquently used in Southern Switzerland to distinguish between Austrian, Swiss German or people from Lichtenstein which are culturally Germans (tedeschi).


Highly offensive. Because of intense history between Italy and Germany is even rarely used.


Preiss (offensive)

Derived from the local name for Prussian. Used to describe any German since the establishment of a Prussian Garrison in Fortress Luxembourg in 1815. Still commonly used today but most popular with World War II survivors.


Švaba (offensive)

Švaba (Macedonian: Шваба) (plural Švabi; Macedonian: Шваби), from Swabian.


Orang Jerman

literally: Man of Germany, (Orang = Man, person)


Mof (offensive)

In Dutch the most common term for the German people, after the regular/official one, is "mof". It is regarded as a derogative term, used exclusively for Germans and reflected Dutch resentment of the German occupation of the Netherlands during the Second World War and the respective German actions.[14] The use of the word has been gradually fading since the late 1990s.[citation needed] The word "Mofrika" (Germany) is a portmanteau of Africa and "mof".

In the late 16th century the area now known as East Frisia and Emsland and the people that lived there were referred to as ""Muffe". At the time that the Netherlands were by far the richest country in the whole of Europe, and these people were looked down upon greatly by the Dutch. The area of Western Lower Saxony was at that time very poor and a good source for many Dutch people looking for cheap labour. The inhabitants of this region were known to be rather reserved and were often described as "grumpy", "rude" and "unsophisticated" by the Dutch. Later the term was used to describe the whole of Germany, which, at the time, wasn't much better off economically than Western Lower Saxony, mainly due to the various wars waged on its territory by foreign powers. The term seemed to have died out around 1900 but returned following the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940.[15]

A popular humorous (but false) etymology of the word "mof" by the Dutch is that it is actually a German abbreviation meaning "Menschen ohne Freunde" ("people without friends").

Poep/poebe (offensive)

In Frisian (minority) language and Gronings dialect the word poep or poebe is used, as well as poepelân (Fr.), poepenlaand (Gr.) for Germany itself. In Gronings and Dutch poep means faeces, though the word does not seem to originate from that. A theory is that when Bernhard von Galen and his Westphalian troops arrived at Groningen in the 17th century to conquer the city, they used the word "Puppe" (meaning puppet). The people from Groningen laughed about that because it sounds exactly like poebe, which means faeces. Another theory is that it originates from that same era, but from the word Bube, being a fondle word for boy. From the city of Groningen it spread out into the province of Groningen and the border region with Drenthe.

Oosterbuur (friendly)

In the Dutch language the word "Oosterbuur" (Eastern neighbour) nearly always refers to the German people or Germany itself, as Germany and the Germans are located to the East of the Netherlands and Belgium. Similarly, the Flemish refer to the Dutch as "Noorderburen" (Northern Neighbours) and the Dutch use "Zuiderburen" (Southern neighbours) for the Belgians.

Pruusj (neutral)

Used in the Netherlands in parts of Limburg. Can be used to indicate the German TV channels: What are you watching? "De Pruusj" (=The Prussian/The German TV)



Niemiec (plural Niemcy) - official term. Derived as in other Slavic languages from nem meaning "mute". See Names of Germany.

Niemiaszek (irreverent)

Niemiaszek (plural niemiaszki). Derogatory diminutive of Niemiec (see above).

Niemra (offensive)

Niemra (plural Niemry) - German woman, especially rather old, or ugly. See Niemiec above.

Germaniec (irreverent)

Germaniec (plural Germańcy) traditionally used to refer to all Germanic peoples. Used by Polish diaspora in the United States from the English word German.

Helmut (irreverent)

Helmut (plural Helmuty) from formerly popular German name Helmut. Also from Helmut Kohl, Chancellor of Germany from 1982 to 1998.

Helga (offensive)

Helga from German name Helga. It is a term to describe a German woman, usually tall, blue-eyed, blond and strongly built, which are considered typical physical features of German women. It also implies the negative opinion about this kind of look.

Fryc (offensive)

The name fryc, plural fryce (after "Fritz", short for Friedrich/Frederick), widely considered as typically German, is sometimes used as a noun for Germans.

Szwab (offensive)

Szwab (plural szwaby; literally Swabian), is derogatory when referring to any Germans instead of just the inhabitants of Swabia. The origin of this usage remains unclear, as Swabia and Poland are relatively far apart.

Szkop (offensive)

Szkop (plural szkopy) is another, similarly derogative term (original, now obsolete meaning: "castrated ram", but see also the term Skopčák for Czech); during World War II, it was first used for German soldiers and later for any German.


Neamţ (colloquialism)

The formal term is German (plural germani). The traditional term, still widely used in common language, is neamţ (plural nemţi). The root of the term is originally Slavic, meaning "mute", because of the mutual unintelligibility between the languages. The original meaning was not passed into Romanian, and the word is generally not used in a derogatory sense, although its colloquialism in contrast to the formal alternatives for "German" (German, pl. germani) and, rarely, "Austrian" (austriac, pl. austrieci) was used in certain offensive or polemic contexts. It appears in placenames like Piatra Neamţ ("The German rock").

Saşi/şvabi (friendly)

Other names existed for specific German minorities, usually in relation with their place of origin. Transylvanian Saxons (immigrated starting from the XII century), were called "saşi". Germans in Banat were called "şvabi", in reference to Schwaben, even though only few of the immigrants came from there.


The standard Russian term for a "German person" is nyemets (singular, Russian: немец) or nyemtsy (plural, Russian: немцы). The roots of the term lie in Slavic etymology, with the original meaning being "mute, unintelligible, incomprehensible". The term was initially used to designate any non-Russian-speaking person (foreigner), but was eventually reserved for Germans only. It no longer means "mute" and has no negative meaning in modern Russian. Germany is called Germaniya (Russian: Германия).

A derisive inflection of nemets, nemchura ("немчура") is also in use. In general, Russian language abounds in suffixes that may bear diminutive or derisive connotation, so one may also see such forms as "nemchishka", "nemchik" ("Germanie"), "nemchatina" ("German meat"). In late 1980s and early 1990s the term bundes was also popular (from "Bundesrepublik Deutschland").

Frits / Hans (historical, a little unfriendly)

Since World War II the names "Fritz" and "Hans" (Фриц Frits, Ганс Gans) have been widely used to denote Germans, especially German soldiers. In Russian, "Hans" is rendered as Ганс and is pronounced as Gans in standard Russian, which makes it worse (Gans (f) in German means "goose" or "(female) fool").

Fashisty (hostile)

Same as Nazis in English, the term "fashisty" (Russian: фашисты) is used as a reference to Nazi Germany. Application of this term to Germans in general is considered extremely hostile and is seldom used.

Germanets (colloquialism)

In the meaning of "citizen of Germany" the word "Germanets" is also in colloquial use, together with the vulgarism German (pronounced with the last syllable accented: "germAn").



Official plural form for Germans (singular: Nemac). Derived from "Nemačka" meaning "Germany".

Švabe (slang)

Means Swabians. A number of Swabians were re-settled in the Banat, then part of Austria-Hungary, by Maria Theresa of Austria to offset the Serb population predominance in the region.



Official term. Derived as in other Slavic languages from nem meaning mute.

Švab (pl. švabi/švabje) (offensive)

Mildly offensive, literally meaning the Swabians.

Nemškutarji (offensive)

A term reserved for the Germans that have Slovene ancestry and have been Germanized, now usually in connection with the population of the Austrian parts of Carinthia and southern Styria. During World War II the use was broader to include all collaborators of Nazi Germany in Slovenian lands.


Alemanes (official, descriptive)

In Spain the official term for Germans is alemanes, originating from a Germanic tribe, the Alamanni.

Kartofen (colloquial, jocose)

From the German word for potatoes (Kartoffeln) and refers to their, supposed, eating habit/cuisine.

Cabezas cuadradas (colloquial, offensive)

Meaning ("square heads", after the alleged German inclination for fixed rules instead of improvisation).

Teutones or Germanos (formal, poetic, friendly)

Germanos is mostly referred to the ancient tribes found by the Romans. Teutones, also the name of a Germanic tribe, is sometimes used as a literary synonym.

Nazis (insulting)

As seen before, the nickname of the National Socialist political party that ruled Germany from 1933 to 1945.

In Early Modern Spanish (for example in Don Quixote), tudescos (cognate with Deutsch and the Italian tedeschi) was used sometimes as a general name for Germans[16] and sometimes restricted to Lower Saxony.[17][18]


Schwob (colloquial)

Swiss German for Swabian

Sauschwob (offensive)

Swiss German for (literally) Pig-Swabian

Gummihals (offensive)

Swiss German for (literally) Rubber-Neck. The term has been verified to be in use since the 1970s at least. Its actual meaning is subject to debate. Theories include the stereotype of Germans talking too much or nodding their heads endlessly when listening to superiors.[19]


Alman (official)

Alaman (pejorative)

Used by the Turks of Germany.

Hans (offensive)

Used for any Germanic people, including the Dutch and Flemish.

Panzer (colloquial)

Often used to denote the German national Football team.

Non-Germans living in Germany

The term Kartoffel, meaning potato in German, is an offensive term commonly used by many foreigners (especially Turks, Afghans and Russians) living in Germany.

Bavaria (Southern Germany)

Preiß (colloquial or offensive)

While commonly put on a level with Piefke (thus thought of as being used for every German who is not native Bavarian), Preiß actually only refers to people born north of the river Main, and therefore especially not to people from Swabia (western neighbour of Bavaria) or further south (Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy)). In this context, the river Main, as border between Preißen and Bavaria, is referred to as Weißwurstäquator (Bavarian-German spelling: Weißwurschtäquator; Weißwurst is a Bavarian, white veal sausage, literally: white sausage equator). However, Franconians, being citizens of the Free State of Bavaria, are not referred to as Preissen, even though they regularly insist on being not Bavarians (and wouldn't be accepted as such by most Bavarians), and may be described as the Prussians of Bavaria. As seen above, Preiss might be offensive especially for those Germans who never were under Prussian rule. The derogatory element came into importance because of the alleged, or real, threat of Prussian predominance over Bavaria who, after stripping the King of real power (Bavaria's participation in the 70/71 war was due to a enforced treaty after the defeat of 1866) saw themselves as stadholders of Progress etc. - for love of Bavaria, as Kurt Wilhelm in the highly popular drama Brandner Kaspar lets one of his characters comment sarcastically. Indeed the anti-Prussianism as, for instance, professed by G. K. Chesterton would meet the heartiest Bavarian support.

As of today, the problems of Bavarians with Prussians restrict themselves to occurrences as answering the question "Could you show me the way to the Central Station" (of a supposedly non-Bavarian formalism) with "Yes, I could" or the like. However, the Christian Social Union still feels the need of having a distinct party for Bavaria only (being not a regional subdivision, but a "(little) sister party" of the Christian Democrats), and the failure of Bavarians to reach the most important state offices does not remain unnoted (President Herzog had careered outside of Bavaria as CDU, not CSU member; both Franz-Josef Strauß 1980 and Edmund Stoiber 2002 slightly failed to secure the chancellorship, with the suspicion of a "Bavaria malus" among the non-Bavarian electorace).

"Preiß" has breeded the confessedly insulting word Saupreiß, literally: pig-Prussian. However, additions as in Saupreiß, japanischer, taking away the national character for a plainly artistical composition (this being a somewhat joking reference to the many Japanese tourists in Munich), originated in the late 20th century as a parody on the Saupreiß term, have a mostly good-natured meaning.

Northern Germany

Bazi (offensive)

Bazi is an offensive term used in Northern Germany to describe Bavarians.

See also


  1. ^ Chronography and History of the whole world, Vol. II (London, 1677: 154)
  2. ^ Die Reden Kaiser Wilhelms II., Hg. v. Johannes Penzler. Bd. 2: 1896-1900. Leipzig o.J., S. 209-212. Deutsches Historisches Museum
  3. ^ Klaus Mühlhahn, Kolonialkrieg in China: die Niederschlagung der Boxerbewegung 1900-1901, 
  4. ^ Nicoletta Gullace, "Barbaric Anti-Modernism: Representations of the "Hun" in Britain, North America, Australia and Beyond", Picture This: World War I Posters and Visual Culture 
  5. ^ Allen, Irving (1983). The Language of Ethnic Conflict: Social Organization and Lexical Culture. Columbia University Press. p. 57. ISBN 0231055579. 
  6. ^ etymonline, origin of "heinie"
  7. ^ a b etymonline, origin of "Jerry"
  8. ^ As in the role of Felicity Montagu in the book and film How to Lose Friends & Alienate People (2008).
  9. ^ etymonline, origin of "teuton"
  10. ^ National Library of Scotland Digital Archive (click "More information")
  11. ^ Boche, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  12. ^ Anton Karl Mally: "Piefke". Nachträge. In: Muttersprache. Zeitschrift zur Pflege und Erforschung der deutschen Sprache [Wiesbaden], Vol. 94, 1983/84, number 3-4, pp. 313-327.
  13. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Boche". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920. 
  14. ^ Prisma Etymologisch woordenboek, ISBN 90-274-9199-2. "Mof heeft historisch gezien niet de huidige betekenis (die van een verwijzing naar de Duitsers en hun acties tijdens de Tweede wereldoorlog) maar ..."
  15. ^ Why Germans are called "moffen" (Dutch)
  16. ^ Don Quixote, Second Part, chapter LIV, Miguel de Cervantes: Sancho Panza meets some pilgrims (alemán o tudesco) from Augsburg.
  17. ^ tudesco in the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española.
  18. ^ Don Quixote, Second part, chapter V: ¿Cuántos son los alemanes, tudescos, franceses, españoles, italianos y esguízaros? "How many are the Almains, Dutch, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Italians and Swiss?"
  19. ^ Bruno Ziauddin: Grüezi Gummihälse. Warum uns die Deutschen manchmal auf die Nerven gehen. Rowohlt, Reinbek 2008, ISBN 978-3-499-62403-2

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