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.

Guess the Places These Foods Were Named After

What's the Difference Between a Rabbit and a Hare?

iStock.com/Carmen Romero
iStock.com/Carmen Romero

Hippity, hoppity, Easter's on its way—and so is the eponymous Easter bunny. But aside from being a magical, candy-carrying creature, what exactly is Peter Cottontail: bunny, rabbit, or hare? Or are they all just synonyms for the same adorable animal?

In case you've been getting your fluffy, long-eared mammals mixed up, we've traveled down the rabbit hole to set the record straight. Although rabbits and hares belong to the same grass-munching family—called Leporidae—they're entirely different species with unique characteristics. It would be like comparing sheep and goats, geneticist Steven Lukefahr of Texas A&M University told National Geographic.

If you aren't sure which animal has been hopping around and helping themselves to the goodies in your vegetable garden, take a closer look at their ears. In general, hares have longer ears and larger bodies than rabbits. Rabbits also tend to be more social creatures, while hares prefer to keep to themselves.

As for the baby animals, they go by different names as well. Baby hares are called leverets, while newborn rabbits are called kittens or kits. So where exactly do bunnies fit into this narrative? Originally, the word bunny was used as a term of endearment for a young girl, but its meaning has evolved over time. Bunny is now a cutesy, childlike way to refer to both rabbits and hares—although it's more commonly associated with rabbits these days. With that said, the Easter bunny is usually depicted as a rabbit, but the tradition is thought to have originated with German immigrants who brought their legend of an egg-laying hare called "Osterhase" to America.

In other ambiguous animal news, the case of Bugs Bunny is a little more complicated. According to scientist and YouTuber Nick Uhas, the character's long ears, fast speed, and solitary nature seem to suggest he's a hare. However, in the cartoon, Bugs is shown burrowing underground, which doesn't jive with the fact that hares—unlike most rabbits—live aboveground. "We can draw the conclusion that Bugs may be a rabbit with hare-like behavior or a hare with rabbit nesting habits," Uhas says.

The conversation gets even more confusing when you throw jackrabbits into the mix, which aren't actually rabbits at all. Jackrabbits are various species of large hare that are native to western North America; the name itself is a shortened version of "jackass rabbit," which refers to the fact that the animal's ears look a little like a donkey's.

A jackrabbit
Connor Mah, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

As Mark Twain once famously wrote about the creature, "He is just like any other rabbit, except that he is from one-third to twice as large, has longer legs in proportion to his size, and has the most preposterous ears that ever were mounted on any creature but the jackass." (Fun fact: Black-tailed jackrabbits' extra-long ears actually help them stay cool in the desert. The blood vessels in their ears enlarge when it gets hot, causing blood to flow to their ears and ridding their bodies of excess heat.)

Rabbits, hares, and jackrabbits all have one thing in common, though: They love a good salad. So if you happen across one of these hopping creatures, give them some grass or weeds—and skip the carrots. Bugs Bunny may have loved the orange vegetable, but most hares and rabbits would prefer leafy greens.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, send it to bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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