Now that we know how to learn Berlin slang words, let’s actually learn some!
For each word, we’ll see a simple definition, an explanation and an example of the word being used in a sentence. I’ll also include an equivalent word or phrase in Standard German.
Standard German Equivalent: Alkoholiker
Alki refers to people who are known for drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Ich bin kein Alki, aber ich trinke Bier jeden Samstag.
(I’m not an alcoholic, but I drink beer every Saturday.)
Meaning: Brother or friend
Standard German Equivalent: Bruder oder Freund
Usually, Atze is used in Berlin to describe a friend or acquaintance in the same clique.
Hey Atze, was geht?
(Hey buddy, what’s up?)
Standard German Equivalent: Angst
In Berlin, Bammel describes the feeling of doubt, fear and uncertainty.
Ich hab’ Bammel, dass ich’s nicht schaff’. Das Schulprogramm ist in diesem Jahr schwer.
(I’m afraid that I won’t be able to do it. The school program this year is hard.)
Standard German Equivalent: Kopf
In Standard German, Birne means pear. In Berlin, it refers to the head when talking slang.
Ich hab’ Birne schmerzen. Ich soll den Arzt sehen.
(I have a headache. I should see the doctor.)
Standard German Equivalent: Tür
Brett is used to describe doors, especially those in a house.
Mach’s Brett ran. Es gibt zu viel Lärm draußen.
(Close the door. There’s too much noise outside.)
Standard German Equivalent: kaputt
In other German slang expressions, the adjective kaputt is usually replaced with weg. Although weg is still used in Berlin, Berliners also say futsch to describe things that are broken.
Mein Auto ist futsch.
(My car is broken.)
Standard German Equivalent: schlau
Helle is an adjective that describes clever, intelligent people, especially in academics.
Du bist helle. Eine 1 in Mathe ist nicht einfach.
(You’re clever. An A+ in math isn’t easy.)
Standard German Equivalent: ich
Ick, just like Juten Tach, is a slang word that’s based on the Berlin accent. It’s pronounced like “ich” in Standard German.
Example: Ick hab heute nüscht zu tun. Vielleicht gucke ick Netflix an.
(I have nothing to do today. Maybe I’ll watch some Netflix.)
Standard German Equivalent: Ortschaft
In Berlin, Kaff means a small, suburban village that’s not interesting and which is isolated from urban areas and cities.
Example: Ich wohne in einem Kaff. Hier ist es echt langweilig.
(I live in a hicksville. It’s very boring here.)
Meaning: A little money
Standard German Equivalent: ein wenig Geld
In Standard German, Kröten means “toads.” But in Berlin, along with its formal meaning, Kröten also refers to money, especially in small amounts.
Example: Gerade hab ick keine Kröten. Kannst du mir ein paar Euros leihen?
(I have no money right now. Can you lend me a few euros?)
Standard German Equivalent: schnell
In Berlin, Karacho means quickly or fast. It always follows the word mit when used in a sentece.
Example: Er bretterte mit Karacho über die Autobahn. Er ist fast von einem Auto getroffen.
(He quickly tore along the highway. He almost got hit by a car.)
12. Sich kabbeln
Meaning: To squabble
Standard German Equivalent: sich streiten
Kabbeln is a Berlin slang verb that describes actions such as squabbling, arguing and fighting. It’s usually used to describe minor, short altercations.
Example: Die Brüder Markus und Lukas kabbeln sich oft.
(The brothers Markus and Lukas fight each other very often.)
Meaning: Beanpole; a tall man
Standard German Equivalent: ein Großer Mann
Lulatsch is an adjective that refers to tall, thin individuals.
Example: Neben mir saß ein Lulatsch.
(Next to me sat a beanpole.)
Meaning: To smack
Standard German Equivalent: schmatzen
Mampfen is used to describe eating with noisy and annoying lip movements.
Example: Du sollst beim Essen nicht so mampfen!
(You shouldn’t smack your lips while eating!)
Standard German Equivalent: Brille
Nasenfahrrad means “nose bike” when literally translated into English. It’s an ironic way to describe glasses in Berlin slang.
Example: Ich trage ein Nasenfahrrad seit 2015.
(I’ve worn glasses since 2015.)
Meaning: Cheeky or sassy
Standard German Equivalent: frech
Pampig is an adjective used to describe someone who’s direct, sassy and bold.
Example: Seine Schwester wurde richtig pampig.
(His sister got really sassy.)
Meaning: To rain heavily
Standard German Equivalent: heftig regnen
When raining heavily, the verb Berliners use to describe the weather is pladdern, as it’s shorter than the Standard German equivalent, heftig regnen.
Example: Es pladderte die ganze Woche lang.
(It rained heavily all week long.)
Meaning: Young man
Standard German Equivalent: kleiner Junge
Piepel means a young man, and usually indicates an active, hard-working youth.
Example: Ihr Sohn ist ein netter Piepel.
(Your son is a nice young man.)
Standard German Equivalent: dumm
Rammdösig is usually used to describe someone who is stupefied and unable to form clear thoughts.
Example: Mensch, sei nicht rammdösig! 1 plus 1 ist gleich 2.
(Man, don’t be stupid! 1 plus 1 equals 2.)
Meaning: To walk [with far-reaching steps]
Standard German Equivalent: [mit weit ausgreifenden Schritten] gehen
Stiefeln means walking with slow and far-reaching steps.
Example: Ich soll zum Bahnhof stiefeln um meinen Freund zu treffen.
(I should walk to the train station to meet my boyfriend.)
Standard German Equivalent: dünn
Spack ist an adjective that is used in Berlin to describe skinny, weak and thin people.
Example: Seine Freundin? Sie sieht schrecklich spack aus.
(His girlfriend? She looks terribly thin.)
Standard German Equivalent: Kneipe
Stampe is a slang word used to describe small, cheap, local pubs in Berlin.
Example: Die neue Stampe an der Ecke ist echt toll.
(The new pub on the corner is really great.)
Meaning: Difficult situation
Standard German Equivalent: schwierige Situation
In Berlin slang, Schlamassel is used to in difficult and troublesome circumstances.
Example: Da haben wir den Schlamassel!
(There we have the mess!)
Kiez is a slang word used often in Berlin for ‘neighborhood.’ This word is important for Berlin, because the city has so many different neighborhoods that are all very unique in their own aspects. Instead of using Stadtviertel, like other German cities would, Berliners say Kiez.
Geil is an important word to learn and not put into a translate app. This word is often heard in Berlin and means something along the lines of ‘cool’ or ‘nice,’ not sexually aroused, which is the direct translation. So if you hear someone say ‘supergeil,’ it is not something inappropriate. In fact, national supermarket chain Edeka scored a surprise viral hit with an ad campaign based solely around the ambiguity of the word geil.
Alles paletti means that everything is okay and is an expression that will only be heard in Berlin. While German natives from across the country will tell you that “Alles ist OK” or “in Ordnung”, the Berliners set themselves apart with their preference for paletti.
When speaking to Germans abroad, they will often speak about how they miss the bread from their country. Bread, which is an important part of Germany’s culture, has been given its own name in Berlin. So instead of asking for Brötchen at the baker, in Berlin locals ask for a Schrippe, and usually lots of them too.
Hopefully this is a word that is not used too often, but instead of using weinen, the verb to cry, plärren is more commonly used in the Hauptstadt.
29. “Kotti”, “Görli”, “F’Shain” and “Xberg”
These words are all abbreviations for the following locations in Berlin: Kottbuser Tor, Görlitzer Park, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. The German word Kreuz, from which Kreuzberg is formed, is the translation for cross, which explains the X. This is something that could easily throw off any newcomers and non-German speakers. So instead of Googling these words and finding no answer, it is best to become familiar with the Kiez slang.
This is one of the most important words to know in Berlin. Spätis, which translates to ‘late,’ are corner stores that are ubiquitous around the city. This word is vital to know and use when living in Berlin. The Spätis, which are open on Sundays, are the perfect pit stop to grab a ‘wegbier’, or a beer to go, which is a classic in Berlin in the summer months.
If you associated meatballs with Sweden, know that they are also a thing in Berlin as well, albeit the case that here they are called Bulette. Apart from meaning meatball, Ran an de Buletten is a Berlinish expression meaning ‘Let’s go!’
Now that we’ve discovered Berlin slang words and the best ways to memorize them, it’s up to you to start studying them.
You’ll get addicted to slang words once you start learning them—trust me!