Find out which long German words are Guinness World Record breakers and which are really used in everyday German. Can you believe the longest German word contains no less than 80 letters?
The German language is renowned for its complex sentences - some of which can only be described as paragraphs - and for its ϋber-long words.
As you will see in the list below, the German language enjoys forming compounds (the formation of new words by combining old ones) and sometimes I get the feeling it thinks the more words the merrier!
Although there have been official Guinness World Record winners over the years, ultimately one could create just about any number of unbelievably long German words.
The majority of these ultra-long words, however, are not spoken on a daily basis in Germany, as you could probably imagine.
So which ones are?
Well, towards the end of my list you will find a collection of long German words which are used in everyday conversation - or at least ones I have definitely heard spoken before! You will also find a great list of long German words submitted by visitors to this website - click on this link to add your own word if you wish.
Although this lesson is more for fun than anything else, it will nevertheless help you learn more about German word structure and its endless possibilities.
Anyway, let's start learning some long German words and those record breakers.
(N.B I have added dashes in the words below so you can see more easily how the words have been structured. Please be aware that the dashes do not otherwise appear in these words!)
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I encourage you to click here and see how this resource can be of benefit to you.
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80 letters. Although longer words are possible - yes, they are!-, this word was officially named the longest published German word by the Guinness World Records in 1996. Since the Spelling Reform, it now has officially 80 letters due to an additional 'f'. In English it means: 'Association of sub-ordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.' This word refers to an alleged sub-department of an Austrian Shipping Company - the 'Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft'- which operated on the River Danube in pre-war Vienna. There is, however, no official evidence it ever existed.
63 letters. This word was in the Guinness World Records as the longest German word from 1992 - 1996. In English: 'Beef labeling regulation and delegation of supervision law.' In simple terms it is part of the name of a law which labels beef. In 1996 it was replaced with the current longest word listed above. Some, however, still refer to this as the longest German word as the law described actually exists.
42 letters. In English: Captain of the Danube Steamship Company. The current official longest German word is an extended version of this.
40 letters. In English: 'Regulation concerning the prescription of anesthetics'.
40 letters. In English: 'Act for the Appropriateness of the payment of a Board of Directors'.
39 letters. In English: 'Pecuniary damage liability insurance'
38 letters. In English: 'Legal Protection Insurance Companies.' This was the longest German word in everyday usage according to the 1995 Guinness World Records. It is more frequently shortened to 'Rechtschutzversicherungen' or in English 'Legal Protection Insurances.'
37 letters. In English: A law concerning the prescription of 'cost-effective' medicines by doctors.
33 letters. In English: 'Federal education and training act.'
Auseinandersetzungs-versteigerung or Teilungs-versteigerung
32 & 21 letters respectively. In English: 'Compulsory partition by public auction'. This simply means if there is more than one owner of a property and an agreement cannot be made regarding its sale, then each owner can apply to receive a share of the proceeds made by a public auction of the property.
31 letters. This is the procedure for the aforementioned word.
27 letters. In English: Settlement balance (with regards to a divorce for example)
24 letters. In English: Heating oil recoil dampening. It is the longest word in which a letter is not repeated and is technically the longest German 'isogram'. (An isogram is a word in which all letters used are repeated the same number of times - in this case, once)
Next, you will learn several long words which, unlike the above words, really can be found in everyday German:
31 letters. In English: Maximum speed limit.
31 letters. In Engish: Likelihood of rain.
26 letters. In English: Waste Disposal Company.
23 letters. In English: Street sweeping fee.
22 letters. In English: Exceeding the parking time.
20 letters. In English: Telephone directory.
Long German Words
Submitted by Visitors
Listed below are some more long German words, all of which have been submitted by my visitors. There are some great ones here too! I'd love to know your own long German word - please feel free to add any via the form at the end of this list...
26 letters. "This long German word can mean a few different things, such as 'team spirit', 'communal spirit', 'common identity' and 'togetherness.' (Sent in by Anonymous)
22 letters. "Literally translated it means hostility towards foreigners. In English: Xenophobia." (Sent in by Anonymous)
(die) Aufenthaltserlaubnis, by Iddi Ismail Ssessanga (Bonn, Germany)
20 letters. "My Longest German word "Aufenthaltserlaubnis", which means 'resident permit', is the longest German word I've come accross. I have always had a hard time pronouncing it. But with time I am getting used to pronouncing it!"
(die) Geschwindigkeitsbegrenzung, by Alex, UK
26 letters. This word means 'speed limit'.
(die) Freikörperkultur (FKK) by Asif Iqbal, Frankfurt, Germany
16 letters. The literal translation of this long German word is 'free body Culture', also known as 'naturism'.
(das) Hochgeschwindigkeitsbahnsystem, by Anonymous
30 letters. "Used on an assignment to advocate the expansion of the high speed rail network. In English, literally translated it means 'high-speed rail system'".
(der) Maschinengewehrschütze, by Paul Hutchinson, Minnesota, US)
22 letters. "I read this word in a German short story while in college. It means 'machine gunner' in English."
(das) Doppelkupplungsgetriebe, by Matt, Austria
23 letters. In English this German word means 'double-clutch gear box' or 'double-clutch transmission'. It can be simply split up as so:
Doppel = double
kupplungs = clutch
getriebe= gear box
(das) Einwohnermeldeamt, by Randy Smith, Brunswick, Georgia
17 letters. "In English, this long German word means 'registration office'. This is an actual word used by everyday Germans, or was during the period when I was stationed in Germany, from 1962 to 1965. It means 'registration office' and refers to the place where you are legally obliged to register as being a 'resident'.
I personally know this word as a fellow Airman at my airbase wanted to locate a former German exchange student who had lived with his family in America.
The German exchange student was from Frankfurt so we went to the 'Einwhohnermelderamt' in downtown Frankfurt and we were able to find this former student. It's not as long a word as some of yours, but certainly long by American English standards."
(die) Straßenbahnhaltestelle, by Elaine, England
22 letters. "I remember learning this word at school many years ago and thinking how long it was compared to the English 'tram stop'!"
(die) Sicherheitsgründen, by Annabella, Osterlinda
18 letters. "'Sicherheitsgründen' is a German word which means'safety / security reasons' in English".
(die) Lebensmittelbehörden, by Sammy, Berlin, Germany
20 letters. "The longest German word I have heard in the last couple of days is: 'Lebensmittelbehörden' (Food agencies). It has been used overhere in Germany so much recently because of the e-coli outbreak. But now we are all allowed to eat tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce again, I am starting to hear it less and less." (Please note Sammy posted this in 2011 ;))
(die) Löschwassereinspeisung, by Maria, Bulgaria
22 lettters. "It means 'fire hydrant'. You can see it written on every such hydrant. They can be seen in all cities in Germany, but I personally saw it in Berlin."
Lösch = extinguising
wasser = water
einspeisung = feed
(der) Deutschklubmitglieder, by Anonymous
21 letters. This long German word, which means 'German club members' in English. I once had to have this written on a shirt."
What is the longest German word you have ever heard of?
It doesn't have to be ultra long - maybe 20 letters or more.
Let's find out which long words REALLY are being used nowadays in German.
I would also love to know the story behind it (i.e where did you hear it, context of it in the sentence - if you can remember that!)
As I mentioned above, my goal is to help you feel confident in your ability to speak German.
That's why I've partnered with the Rocket German Learning System.
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