Mist! Common false friends in German (English/German)

Beware of false friends in the German language - words that look the same as an English word, but mean something completely different. For example: bald - soon; Art - kind, manner, type; herb - bitter, harsh; fast - almost; Mist - manure, dung. The last word is often just as a mild swear word with Mist! also meaning 'Damn!'. So beware when you talk about the weather.
But my favourite false friend is Gift - meaning poison!

Sent by: Stefanie


Anonymous, York 2010-12-12

I like that you have chosen a panorama of Hamburg - my hometown - as the banner of your site.

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Adam, Quinc, MA. USA 2010-10-29

I don't think I saw this in the comments, but my favorite false friend/false cognate is Become/Bekommen. Become in English means to "turn into" (eg, I'd like to become a doctor/teacher/etc when I grow up). Bekommen means "to receive, get" as in "I'd like to get a new computer for my birthday"

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Anonymous, nairobi kenya 2010-09-01

Also aktuell means current not actual,and Chef means boss not the head cook!

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Amanda, Dresden 2010-03-10

Made this mistake yesterday in the grocery store: Watch out when you are buying gummy bears! I'm from America, where you can call them "gummies". But never do this in Germany!
"Gummi" literally translates to "rubber", as in "a rubber" as in "a condom". My friends looked at me pretty strangely when I said I wanted to buy eine Packung Gummis to bring to the movie theater . . .

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Nick, Frankfurt 2009-12-28

Understandably the cream liqueur "Irish Mist" had to be sold under a different name in Germany...

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Vivian de Mesquita 2009-11-08

Gift in German means poison.

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kim 2009-10-12

My favorite false friend is Mist :c)

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john, scotland 2009-07-15

Germany is a wonderful country.

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Petr, Rokycany 2009-06-23

Germany is a beautiful country, it's about just as nice as the Czech Rep.

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Manfred, Bottrop-Germany 2009-05-18

This anecdote happend in the 70ies. That time my wife liked chocolate with peppermint. So one day she bought a family pack of "After eight". Her granny,
who didn't understand English at all, came for a short visit and saw the pack laying on the table, studied it for a while and said:" My goodness, I've never seen such a big pack of this!"

A bit further down you can see why we laughed. Radha explained the meaning.

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