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German words used in English

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Guten tag! English and German both descended from a West Germanic language, though their relationship has been obscured by the great influence of French words to English dating from the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. In recent years, however, many English words have been borrowed directly from German. Here we take a look at some of the most common examples and what they mean:

Doppelganger (doppelgänger)

This words means someone who looks exactly like you; they could be your twin. In mythology a doppelganger was a spirit that would appear as a sign that something bad was going to happen.

Example: 'I saw a man who looks exactly like you in town yesterday. He was your doppelganger!'


When someone sneezes it is polite for us to say '(God) Bless you'. It is also acceptable to use the German word gesundheit.


Kindergarten is often used instead of playschool, pre-school or day-care centre for a school for very young children.


A poltergeist is a type of ghost that moves things and makes a noise. It is also the name of a very successful Steven Spielberg film from 1982.


This noun is used to describe the happiness we feel in the unhappiness of others; taking pleasure in the pain of others.


A strong wish and desire to travel.

Example: 'Every summer I get wanderlust and I have to go abroad.'


'The spirit of the age'.  The general set of ideas, beliefs and feelings which is typical of a particular period in history.

Example: 'The zeitgeist of the '60s was peace and love.'

Link: French words used in English