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If the United States is translated to Vereinigte Staaten then how do you call people from there?

I have always heard Amerikaner but that one refers to the whole continent.

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Related question – guidot Nov 26 at 9:59
And if not? Suspicious dependency injection. ;) – user unknown Nov 26 at 10:05
Calling someone Amerikaner and basing that on the continent (not country) of origin, is about as useful and common as the term Eurasier or Eurasiate. – Crissov 12 hours ago

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted


Amerikaner, like its English equivalent, is a bit ambiguous but very common, even in official contexts, and rarely refers to all inhabitants of or people originating from the Americas. It could even be used informally in some contexts to refer to a German person with American citizenship. It also has some other meanings in reference to physical things, like a pastry. One could also say einen Amerikaner fahren to mean to drive an American car.


Ami is derived from Amerikaner, but it specifically refers to people from the United States, including US soldiers in Germany. Also, more so than Amerikaner, it can be used in compounds (eg ein echter Ami-Wagen), but by itself it almost always refers to people — one does not hear einen Ami fahren referring to a car. It is not pejorative per se, but it does tend to connote the full-strength American stereotype in culture and politics. Angela Merkel would probably avoid it, but a drunken uncle will happily speak of the Amis when providing Stammtisch political analysis on the actions of the government in Washington DC. As the least formal, it is definitely the top choice for Du Scheiß____! It also has the feature of being less comprehensible than Amerikaner to the average English speaker — sometimes that’s a plus.


This is very precise, and much more common in formal German than the equivalent US-American is in English. There is also a useful corresponding adjective, US-amerikanisch. (However US-Amerika is rare.) It would be atypical to say “Bist Du US-Amerikaner?”, unless the emphasis were required in context.

Proposals like Staatler or Vereinigtenstaatler — which is also not precise, as there are other United States of X in the world — never found much traction, proportionally much less than, say, Emirater.

US-Bürger | amerikanischer Staatsbürger

This simply means U.S. citizen or American citizen, and is as such is technical and corresponds nearly exactly with the English translation.

Some other notes:

In German one does not use US for the United States (it is USA). However the prefixing compound is indeed US-. VS (from Vereinigten Staaten) is exceedingly rare.

The rules for the country name are another topic. For example die Staaten is very common, and there are fixed expressions like der Onkel aus Amerika.

There are similar issues regarding the words for people from or citizens of the United Kingdom.

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How are people from the UAE called then? – Joze 2 days ago
I tend to say Emirater, but I believe Emirati (pl Emiratis) is the formal version. Of course, as in English, it is also ambiguous because there are other emirates in the world (same for das Banat and Banater), and because it is frequently used to denote the original Emiratis not the recently naturalised. Then there are Staatsbürger der VAE and Einwohner der VAE (although the English abbreviation UAE is widely understood), or der Emiraten (less formal). – A. M. Bittlingmayer 2 days ago


In Germany it is exactly the same as in the United States:

We are Americans Obama's weekly address Jan 15 2011

literally translates to

Wir sind Amerikaner (this obviously is not true then)

Only if we need to further specify where a person lives we could also say:

Nordamerikaner - North American
Südamerikaner - South American
Texaner - Texan
Südstaatler - Southerner
Kanadier - Canadian
Mexikaner - Mexican
[...] endless list


A short form frequently used in colloquial German is


that has the connotation of a friend from French "ami".


Note that in Germany we do not use "U.S." for the United States (it is "USA"). Still we do say

"US-Bürger" for a U.S. citizen

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+1 for Ami. In colloquial use, one often hears die Amis - but for me it doesn't have the connotation your describing. – Hendrik Vogt Jan 25 '12 at 9:59
Ami has a neutral connotation, leaning slightly to the negative, since it is often used in generalizations Die Amis lieben Fast Food. To my knowledge it doesn't have anything to do with the French "ami". – Twilite Jan 25 '12 at 11:56
In the former Federal Republic of Germany Ami was used in context with the occupying forces and the connotation was mostly neutral, but partly ambiguous. Today there is a tendency not use Ami to denote individual persons, but to use it when expressing prejudices. – bernd_k Jan 25 '12 at 17:49
The friend connotation for Ami is new to me. On the other hand, the word does not have a slightly negative connotation for me, it's fine. – OregonGhost Jan 27 '12 at 18:27
We also sometimes use "GI" as term for american soldiers, at least my mother does. I don't know if we differentiate between army, navy and air force when using this abbreviation. Ami is also a short form of a first name .. was it Michael? – hmundt Feb 21 '12 at 3:06

It depends on the context. Normally an Amerikaner will be identified as someone from US.

If you have a situation where you want to make it absolutly clear, you can say US-Amerikaner.

In a bakery, an Amerikaner can be eaten ;)

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US(A)-Bürger and (most important ;p) Ami – Em1 Jan 24 '12 at 20:58

In Germany we use Amerika as a synonym to the country U.S.A, allthough using it at the same time for referring to the continent, but usually adding Nord- or Süd-.

Thus, the inhabitants of the country are called Amerikaner. When talking about people from other countries on the continent, we are either using their country’s name, like Kanadier or Mexikaner, or adding a region information, like Südamerikaner or Lateinamerikaner.

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"allthough using it at the same time for referring to the continent, but usually adding Nord- or Süd-." - well, that depends. I think it is also not unusual to use just "Amerika" to refer to the continent(s), but it should be noted here that the plural "die Amerikas" is not used in German. This is in contrast to English, where North America + South America = the Americas is assumed. – O. R. Mapper Nov 26 at 14:08

Yes we would say US-Bürger (US-citizen) or US-Amerikaner (US-American), as said above.

But often we would just use Ami or Amis (Plural).

Just to clarify, even though it is spelled like the French ami there is no connection. "Ami" is informal and has, contrary to what was says above, no positive connotations. Few would honestly say "Sche%ß US-Bürger" (fu%king US- Citizen) , most likely they would say "Sche%ß Ami" (Fu%king Ami). "Ami" could be called the less offensive German version of the American offensive slang for Japanese --> "Jap".

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Sorry, but with people I talk to a negative usage of Ami is definitely not what I see. Of course there is no etymological connection to the French ami but the connotation (which is something entirely different) used to be there at the times the term arose in the German language. – Takkat Nov 26 at 10:07
While terms such as Japse or Itaker definitely carry a derogative connotation in the word itself, this is not the case for Ami. To make it derogatory, it needs a derogative modifier. Scheißami works just like Scheißjapse does, however the latter carries a double insult while to former does not. – Jan Nov 26 at 12:34

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