These contain some examples of vulgar language.

DownloadDownload mp3 (file size 1 MB) - right click and choose 'save target as'
Print Get a print version of this page

Class in Germany is today a question of lifestyle rather than birth-right. The following terms and phrases give you an indication of the group in society a person is associated with.

People with money
People without money
Working class

(* = familiar, ** = very familiar, *** = vulgar, s = slang, Lit. = Literally)

People with money

Der Spießer (**) short for der Spießbürger, a narrow-minded, conformist person. Every parent dreads to be called Spießer by their children, who grow up thinking of themselves as liberated and open minded by comparison. Buying a house, having a mortgage, driving a family friendly car and enjoying working in the garden definitely qualifies you as a Spießer.

Der Bonze (**) Big wig. Derogatory for someone belonging to the establishment, holding a high governmental rank.

Der Neureiche (*) Nouveau riche. Someone who has made a lot of money in a relatively short space of time and is not shy about showing it off.

Der reiche Sack (s) Loaded geezer. Lit. Rich bag.

Der Schnösel (**) Snotty, arrogant person.

back to the top

People without money

Der Lebenskünstler (*) Person embracing life without much money. Lit. Life artist.

Der Hungerkünstler (*) Person working as an artist, but making no money. Lit. Hunger artist.

Der ewige Student (*) Lit. The eternal student. A German phenomenon as most students graduate between 26 and 30 and some even manage to go on until they're 40. Due to the German tax system it is sometimes more lucrative to hold on to the student status to avoid paying high taxes while working.

Der Parkbankphilosoph (s) Low life, bag lady. Lit. Park bench philosopher.

back to the top

Working class

Der Assi (**) Scumbag. Short for Asozialer, antisocial person.

Der Prolo (**) Derogatory abbreviation for proletarian, working class.

Der Mantafahrer (s) Serious stereotyping here: a person who drives an Opel Manta car, has tattoos and a mullet.

Die Mantalette (s) The girlfriend of Manny, der Mantafahrer. She's blond, her name is usually Gabi or Mandy and she often works as a hairdresser.

Der Vokuhila (s) Mullet. Abbreviation for the forever popular hairstyle VOrne KUrz und HInten LAng, short at the front and long at the back.

back to the top


Der Müsli (*) Person who is very much into environmental issues, eating mainly organic food and supporting fair trade products. Lit. Muesli eater.

Der Schnorrer (**) Scrounger, sponge.

Der Vereinsmeier (**) Club maniac. Narrow-minded person who is only interested in club activities, often joining clubs such as collecting model trains, breeding rabbits and pigeons.

Das Weichei (s) Softy. Lit. Soft boiled egg. Endearing term for males who are more in touch with their feminine side.

Der Warmduscher (s) Softy. Lit. Person who only takes warm showers.

back to the top

Argument Class Drinking Family
Food Football Friends Going out
Health Interjections Money Moods
Music Play up/Play down Politics Professions

More German from BBC Languages
More from BBC Languages

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.