Online Wörterbücher und Übersetzer; Slang/Jugendsprache

Online Wörterbücher und Übersetzer; Slang/Jugendsprache

Übersetzung [=Translation] Wörterbücher [=Dictionaries]
Usage Advice Dictionaries Deutsch-Deutsch Wörterbücher
Synonymwörterbücher [=Thesauruses] Redewendungen [=Idioms]
Slang/Jugendsprache Other

Übersetzung [=Translation]

  • Online translators are improving at an astonishing rate: what they can do is very impressive. They can be a valuable tool for comprehension, i.e. for quickly getting the main points of a German text (or a text in any language), especially if you’re just starting out in German. They are a wonderful resource for communication when traveling anywhere in the world. Experimenting with the translations and looking closely at the results can be a great way to learn more about vocabulary distinctions, grammar, and sentence structure.
  • Despite the rapid improvements, you should still use your common sense and your knowledge of German to check and correct the results. Much can be learned from instances where the translators do not provide good results!
  • In general, you will learn much more from trying to construct (and understand) sentences on your own, working with the German you have learned, than from using online translators, just as you will benefit more from playing a sport yourself than from watching an athlete do it for you – but you can learn a lot from using online translators thoughtfully, just as you could learn a lot from carefully watching an athlete perform her sport.
  • If you are a University of Michigan student, please note the specific guidelines regarding online translator use accompanying each essay assignment! These guidelines vary by course: in some courses, translator use is forbidden; in others, you are required to cite your translator use, and what you learned from the translation; etc.
  • Finally, two links:
  • DeepL According to some tests, DeepL’s translations are significantly better than those by Google Translate. Currently available only for a limited number of languages, fortunately including German. The same company is responsible for the Linguee online dictionary. 
  • Google Translate This link is here for completeness’ sake, since it would be hard NOT to find this tool when looking for an online translation 🙂 A suggestion for learning, and for obtaining better results: where possible, compare the results from DeepL and Google Translate, in order to think about and learn from the differences!

Wörterbücher [=Dictionaries]

  • Of the dictionaries listed below, PONS, Langenscheidt, and Linguee are included in the links in the sidebar of this site. LEO is still a valuable resource, but “less excellent” than these four!
  • PONS online dictionary This organizes results by categories of meaning the way a paper dictionary would, as opposed to just returning a word list from which you need to draw your own conclusions. ==> EXTREMELY highly recommended!
  • Extremely “efficient” and personalizable. The most common translations of a word are given first. Results are also organized by part of speech (noun/verb etc.), and by the number of words in the expression. Greatest feature are the user-generated pronunciation samples. Powerful “wild card” search function, e.g. *issen returns all German words ending in “-issen.” Click on “Tips” and “FAQ” below the search bar to see more things you can do (e.g. integration into Word, Chrome etc.). Click on “i” next to a word for lots of additional info about it – e.g. go to Netzverb  to see verb conjugations and noun declinations. The “More information” section at the bottom of each page lists relevant forum discussions, similar words, and your own recent searches (once you enable this feature). ==> EXTREMELY highly recommended.
  • This online dictionary incorporates a search engine that provides access to large amounts of bilingual, translated sentence pairs, enabling you to see the word or phrase you’re looking for translated in context. ==> EXTREMELY highly recommended.
  • LEO English/German Dictionary Perhaps slightly less well organized than, but still very efficient. Best features are (a) easy access to verb forms and noun plurals (including a convenient table icon for immediate access to complete verb conjugations and noun declinations), and (b) the discussion forums, which are a great place to go for tricky translation questions. ==> VERY highly recommended!
  • BEOLINGUS (TU Chemnitz) This dictionary does an excellent job of listing the collocations (i.e. typical word combinations) and different classes of meaning of each word, and also provides some convenient verb conjugations. ==> VERY highly recommended!
  • Online version of the 2008 Oxford-Duden Pocket German Dictionary, with entries for each word grouped logically in meaningful groups. ==> Highly recommended.
  • Hueber Online-Wörterbuch Similar to the PONS online dictionary above, just slightly less reliable and comprehensive, and slightly less user-friendly ==> Highly recommended!
  • woxikon Multilingual dictionary. In addition to returning “regular” dictionary results, it provides a (somewhat random) list of translated examples of the word used in context, like (see above). It also lists other related results from the Woxikon site, such as synonyms, sayings (“Sprüche”), quotes (“Zitate”) and jokes (“Witze”) incorporating the search term. ==> Recommended!
  • This online dictionary offers good translations (for multiple languages besides German-English), lists relevant collocations, and provides a sound icon allowing you to hear each word pronounced. The site also offers vocabulary trainers, quizzes, games and a language forum, and the opportunity to add or share content. ==> Recommended!
  • ProZ Technical Translation Database This site lets you search a variety of databases for translations of technical terms in a wide range of technical and professional disciplines.
  • QuickDic Online This online dictionary works quickly as its name indicates, and is somewhat customizable. It’s greatest strength relative to other online dictionaries lies in its emphasis on the variety of possible translations of a given term.  It is not good at helping you choose between the basic alternative meanings of a word (it just returns an alphabetical list), but it is excellent if you’re searching for idiomatic usages of a word: e.g. searching for “cold” returned more than 200 matches (3/10) ranging from 4 terms for “cold” itself to expressions for “are cold” (“to be cold”
    is further down the alphabetical list), “cold comfort,” “cold front,” and “cold sweat,” for example. 300,000 entries 12/10.
  • Student Online German English Spanish Dictionary Returns somewhat arbitrarily sorted word lists, but remains on this list because at the bottom of each list of results, you get a fun quotation (e.g.: “boy: a noise with dirt on it”).
  • Online Dictionary German English. 210,000 entries 3/10; a fun feature is that you can choose to see all the entries listed alphabetically.
  • Logos Multilingual Dictionary The translation results are rather busy and hard to really make use of, but there are some neat features, such as links to Google image (or text) searches for certain words, or to Wikipedia entries, or passages using the word in context.
  • This site provides an interesting online English-German translation tool that lists sample professionally translated sentences as a way to give you a feel for the different possible meanings of a word. Fewer entries than most online dictionaries, but an interesting resource for choosing the appropriate translation of more common words. The site also provides a German language paraphrasing tool.

Usage Advice Dictionaries

  • Wortschatz Universität Leipzig (Link is in the sidebar of all pages using this template: “Wortschatz Deutsch“): Enter a word into the search window and then scroll down. “Part of” shows you phrases/collocations including your word. Further down, click to expand the “Cooccurrences,” “Left Neighbor” and “Right Neighbor” sections. These will show you which words most frequently appear with, to the left of, and to the right of your word. This is VERY useful for figuring out how to use a new word! Note: I recommend ignoring the “Examples” section, as the examples are usually too random and complex to reveal any useful patterns.
  • DWDS: Das digitale Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache Awesome site that will give you a detailed list of possible meanings for each word, as well as a lengthy list of usage examples.

Deutsch-Deutsch Wörterbücher

Synonymwörterbücher [=Thesauruses]

  • Woxikon – Synonyme Excellent synonym dictionary. Organizes the synonyms by categories of meaning.
  • Wortschatz Universität Leipzig (Link is in the sidebar of all pages using this template: “Wortschatz Deutsch“): Provides synonyms for any word you enter, but interprets the “synonym” concept very broadly, so what you are getting is more a list of related words. The usage information provided by this site is much more useful – see description under “Usage Advice Dictionaries” above!

Redewendungen [=Idioms]


  • BBC: Cool German Very user-friendly. Organized by topic. For each topic, you see and hear a series of expressions, including brief explanatory notes on their meaning and use.
  • Viennese for Americans – A Phrase Book A humorous page with a wide range of sample phrases in the Viennese dialect, ranging from “Wieso kinnt’s ia Deppn net wia jeda nuamle mensch a emericen redn?” [=”Why don’t you [fools] just speak American like everybody else?”] to “Hoid da Goschn!” [=”Shut the %#$#* up!”]. For each phrase, you are given the English equivalent [as opposed to a literal translation], the Viennese phrase [unfortunately, it’s often hard to tell from the transliteration what “standard German” words the terms used correspond to–e.g. the transliteration used for “Grüß Gott” is “Griass God”], and a flippant transcription of how an American might attempt to pronounce the phrase.  Please be warned that this page includes some strong and possibly offensive language!
  • Lexikon der Jugendsprache Created by 8th grade students in a Gesamtschule in Duisburg in 1997.  Becoming increasingly dated, but a useful source of some common slang expressions.
  • Detlev Mahnert: Neue Trends in der Jugendsprache This page, last updated in 2013, contains general information on “Jugendsprache,” as well as a variety of concrete examples (especially of “Kanakisch,” a recent genre of slang with Turkish-German origins), and, at the bottom of the page, an up-to-date list of some basic slang expressions.
  • PONS Wörterbuch der Jugendsprache A selection of current slang expressions, updated periodically by PONS, often on the basis of a contest in schools. Often omits the more common/better-known terms like “geil,” “checken,” “ätzend” etc. that you’ll probably want to learn first, and that even older Germans would be likely to understand. Sometimes the entire dictionary is available online, sometimes you can only see excerpts or e-cards with selected expressions. Search for “PONS Wörterbuch der Jugendsprache” to see what’s available.
  • Warmduscher In the late 90s, a craze for ironic ways of calling someone a “wuss” evolved in Germany, taking creative advantage of the ease with which compound nouns are formed in German. A “Saunauntensitzer,” for example, is a wuss because they sit on the lowest tier of seats in the sauna, where it is not as hot. This link takes you to a list of often quite creative examples. The “Best of” list may be a good place to start.

The following links are provided here because they include some interesting slang terms, but many of the entries are very obscene/offensive ==>please do not visit these links in class, unless your instructor has specifically asked you to! If you think these links should be removed, please use the Contact/Feedback link below to let us know! 2021 Update: This section has become very short, as most of the sites formerly listed here have disappeared 🙂

  • Terms for telling someone off / insulting someone. Sometimes creative, sometimes offensive, sometimes both – be warned. [schimpfen = to curse, to scold, to swear]
  • You could also try googling “Die besten Beleidigungen” to see various lists of insults [=Beleidigungen] that people consider creative/amusing