15 Adorably Wunderbar German Terms of Endearment

Photo illustration by Mental Floss. Images: iStock/chokkicx (flag), iStock.com/JakeOlimb (speech bubble with heart)
Photo illustration by Mental Floss. Images: iStock/chokkicx (flag), iStock.com/JakeOlimb (speech bubble with heart)

Liebling (darling), engel (angel), honigbiene (honeybee)—German has a number of terms of endearment to call those close your heart. But because it also likes to form compound words and add endings that cuten up whatever they attach to, it offers a lot of creative leeway in coming up with ever more delightful terms. Here are 15 adorably wunderbar German terms to try out on your sweeties.

1. Schatzi

One of the most common terms is Schatzi, or little treasure.

2. Knuddelbär

This means “cuddle bear,” and the knuddel can attach to other names too, as in knuddelmaus, or “cuddle mouse.”

3. Schmusebärchen

Schmusen is another way to say “to cuddle” or “to smooch,” and adding the diminutive –chen ending to bär here yields “little cuddle bear.”

4. Schmusebacke

What else can you smooch, or rather smooosh? Cheeks. Schumsebacke is "shmoosh cheeks."

5. Mausezähnchen

The animals of endearment like bär and maus can attach to other nouns too, like … tooth? Mausezähnchen is “little mouse tooth.” Imagine how small and cute one of those must be!

6. Mausebär

The animal terms can combine with each other too. If a mouse is cuddly and cute and a bear is cuddly and cute, just how stinkin’ cuddly and cute is a mousebear?

7. Schnuckelschneke

Schnecke is a snail, and while snails may not rank high in adorability for English pet names, they show up a lot in German ones. The melodious Schnuckelschneke is "nibble snail."

8. Igelschnäuzchen

Igel is hedgehog and it’s hard to get cuter than hedgehog, but “little hedgehog snout” should do it.

9. Hasenfürzchen

Along with the bear, mouse, snail, and hedgehog, the bunny, or hase, figures prominently in German pet names. Knuddelhase is a good one, but hasenfürzchen or "bunny fart," is better.

10. Honigkuchenpferd

If sweetness is what you’re after, you could go for süsse (sweetie), honigbär (honey bear), or zuckermaus (sugar mouse). But if you’re going to go sweet, why not go all the way to honigkuchenpferd, or "honey-cake-horse"?

11. Knutschkugel

Knutschkugel is "smooch ball," and in addition to being a term of endearment, it’s a common nickname for those little round two-seater cars you see on European streets.

12. Moppelchen

Speaking of roundness, you wouldn’t necessarily want to be called moppel—it means something like "fatso." But moppelchen, or "lil’ chubsy," says it with love.

13. Schnuckiputzi

The best way to translate Schnuckiputzi is simply "cutie pie."

14. Schnurzelpurzel

You can get carried away with the repetitive rhyming potential of these terms, leading to nonsense (but somehow perfect) ones like Schnurzelpurzel.

15. Schnuckiputzihasimausierdbeertörtchen

This creation ranks 139 on a list of terms of endearment at this German baby name site. It translates to cutiepiebunnymousestrawberrytart and is something of a term of endearment, lullaby, and bedtime story all rolled into one.

When Are the Dog Days of Summer?

Dorottya_Mathe/iStock via Getty Images
Dorottya_Mathe/iStock via Getty Images

The official “dog days” of summer begin on July 3 and end on August 11. So how did this time frame earn its canine nickname? It turns out the phrase has nothing to do with the poor pooches who are forever seeking shade in the July heat, and everything to do with the nighttime sky.

Sirius, the Dog Star, is the brightest star in the sky. The ancient Greeks noticed that in the summer months, Sirius rose and set with the Sun, and they theorized that it was the bright, glowing Dog Star that was adding extra heat to the Earth in July and August.

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15 Pairs of Words That Surprisingly Come From the Same Source

Both flour and flower come from the same root word
Both flour and flower come from the same root word
Lena_Zajchikova/iStock via Getty Images

We take for granted that many English words have counterparts that sound related, but aren’t. Even though know and no sound the same, their meanings are so different we assume they have different etymological sources (which the spelling differences also suggest). However, sometimes words we might not expect to have anything in common historically do in fact go back to the same source. They’re called etymological doublets; here are 15 of them.

1. Flour/Flower

Flour, just like flower, came from French fleur. It was named that way because the part of the plant used to make it was considered the “flower of the grain,” the best part of it, taking away all the chaff and other impurities.

2. Lobster/Locust

Both go back to Latin locusta, for locust, which also turned into the French langouste and Old English lopustre. The lobster is the locust of the sea.

3. Inch/Ounce

Though one measures length and the other weight, they both go back to Latin uncia, meaning a twelfth part. The original ounce was 1/12th of a pound.

4. Of/Off

Of and off were once the exact same word but in a stressed vs. unstressed pronunciation. It wasn’t until the 17th century that they developed different uses to the point where they were considered different words.

5. Etiquette/Ticket

Etiquette was a French word for a note attached to something that listed its contents. It was borrowed into English as ticket and into Spanish as etiqueta, where it came to be associated with the listed rules of protocol for the Spanish royal court. It then came back into French and English with the social protocol meaning.

6. Costume/Custom

Both come from Latin consuetudinem, meaning "accustomed to," or "habituated." Both referred to the general habits of a group, including how they dress, among other things. Costume wasn’t explicitly connected to just the dress sense until the 1800s.

7. Species/Spices

Both come from Latin specie, for "appearance" or "form." Spice came into English first, from Old French espice. Species was later borrowed directly from Latin.

8. Reward/Regard

In Anglo-Norman, reward and regard were alternate pronunciations of the same thing. While the g version took on the senses of "to look at," "give attention to," and also "to merit, esteem, or respect," the w version settled into the current sense of giving something on merit.

9. Dainty/Dignity

The Latin word dignus meant "worthy." While dignity refers to a sense of "worthy" that includes serious notions of honor, respect, and rank, in dainty, dignus lives on in the sense of being worthy for being delightful, precious, and pleasing.

10. Naïve/Native

Both come from Latin nativus, meaning innate, natural. Naïve is "natural" in the sense of being unspoiled and native is an innate belonging to an origin.

11. Shirt/Skirt

The ancestor of the Old English scyrte developed into a word for the upper part of an undergarment in many Germanic languages, but it’s not entirely clear how it also developed into the skirt word for a lower garment in English.

12. Tradition/Treason

Tradition is from the Latin tradere, for the act of handing over or handing down. Treason also comes from tradere, with the sense of handing over or delivering. The tray in betray also goes back to this sense of tradere.

13. Tulip/Turban

Both are approximations of the Persian word for turban, dulband, which a tulip was said to resemble.

14. Maneuver/Manure

Maneuver comes from the Latin manu + operari, to work by hand. But so does manure, which was originally a verb meaning to "till the land."

15. Grammar/Glamour

Grammar goes all the way back to Latin and Greek, where it referred to all aspects of the study of literature. In the Middle Ages, it came to be associated with just the linguistic parts, and particularly with the study of Latin. The fancy, educated class studied Latin, and also things like magic and astrology, so the word grammar sometimes referred to that aspect too. A mispronounced version, glamour, went on to stand for the magical, enchanting quality we use it for today.

This list was first published in 2015 and republished in 2019.

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