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 100-Year-Old Word or Phrase

From Farts to Floozy: These Are the Funniest Words in English, According to Science

iStock.com/jeangill
iStock.com/jeangill

Fart. Booty. Tinkle. Weiner. We know these words have the ability to make otherwise mature individuals laugh, but how? And why? Is it their connotations to puerile activities? Is it the sound they make? And if an underlying structure can be found to explain why people find them humorous, can we then objectively determine a word funnier than bunghole?

Chris Westbury, a professor of psychology at the University of Alberta, believes we can. With co-author Geoff Hollis, Westbury recently published a paper ("Wriggly, Squiffy, Lummox, and Boobs: What Makes Some Words Funny?") online in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. The two analyzed an existing list of 4997 funny words compiled by the University of Warwick and assessed by 800 survey participants, whittling down the collection to the 200 words the people found funniest. Westbury wanted to see how a word's phonology (sound), spelling, and meaning influenced whether people found it amusing, as well as the effectiveness of incongruity theory—the idea that the more a word subverts expectations, the funnier it gets.

In an email to Mental Floss, Westbury said that a good example of incongruity theory is this video of an orangutan being duped by a magic trick. While he's not responding to a word, clearly he's tickled by the subversion of his own expectations:

With incongruity theory in mind, Westbury was able to generate various equations that attempted to predict whether a person would find a single word amusing. He separated the words into categories—insults, sexual references, party terms, animals, names for body parts, and profanity. Among those examined: gobble, boogie, chum, oink, burp, and turd.

Upchuck topped one chart, followed by bubby and boff, the latter a slang expression for sexual intercourse. Another equation found that slobbering, puking, and fuzz were reliable sources of amusement. Words with the letters j, k, and y also scored highly, and the vowel sound /u/ appeared in 20 percent of words the University of Warwick study deemed funny, like pubes, nude, and boobs.

In the future, Westbury hopes to examine word pairs for their ability to amuse. The smart money is on fart potato to break the top five.

[h/t Live Science]

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