I saw "Heizölrückstoßabdämpfung" as an example of a word that is almost a pangramm without repetitition, but is it a real German word?

  • 7
    Are you kidding? It's one of the most important concepts in heating: stupidedia.org/stupi/… ;)
    – splattne
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 6:22
  • 2
    Hmm, with "real" I mean that it is actually used like Fahrtrichtungsanzeigerkontrollglühlampe or Einkommensteuerdurchführungsverordnung.
    – Phira
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 6:31
  • 5
    Are people still using Fahrtrichtungsanzeigerkontrollglühlampen? I thought they would use Fahrtrichtungsanzeigerkontroll LEDs by now...
    – bjoernz
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 9:58
  • The marriage law in Austria is in 19th century German, so I guess that it will be quite some time until Glühlampen vanish from legal texts.
    – Phira
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 10:25
  • I'm amazed that nobody has mentioned the term 'zusammengesetzte Nomen'. That's what we're talking about here. You can create them in almost any language but the german language makes it easier than other languages and uses quite many of them naturally.
    – markus
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 21:30

9 Answers 9


It's a "real" word, in the sense that it doesn't contain any orthographical mistakes, but I seriously doubt that you'll find the word in technical literature.

My guess is that the word was composed for amusement's sake: getting the longest German isogram.

  • What about "Oberweserdampfschifffahrtsgesellschaftskapitänsmütze"?
    – arik-so
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 17:41
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    @arik-so It's not an isogram: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isogram.
    – splattne
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 17:59

This word is made up only to be the longest "known" German isogram. So it is a phantasy term meaning really nothing. It doesn't make any sense, so I would not agree with the other answers stating that it is a "real" word.

  • Also see de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isogramm
    – RBloeth
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 7:35
  • Depends on what you mean by meaning nothing. It does have a meaning, just not one that's actually used... +1 anyway for the correct answer (I guess).
    – deceze
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 7:37
  • This is true. It is not an existing term, it just shows the possibilities of German language. ;-)
    – ladybug
    Commented May 25, 2011 at 7:48
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    I wouldn't say it has a "meaning". I cannot find an interpretation that makes sense to me. Where does Heizöl ever have a Rückstoß which needs to get abgedämft? It's in the same league as formally correct but meaningless sentences like "The colour of the smell was not very long."
    – celtschk
    Commented Aug 10, 2014 at 18:07

It's certainly a word that can be formed and understood in German. If it's actually used I couldn't say, as it seems very technical. I can at least imagine a "heating oil backlash suppressor" to exist though, even if I don't know what it is.


If a 'heating oil backlash suppressor' existed, it would be a real noun. If it does not exist, it is not real, but still valid.

It is a constructed noun with no orthographical mistakes, and it is constructed according to the rules of german grammar and syntax. Because you can construct new nouns in german by putting two existing nouns (even constructed nouns) together, german vocabulary is at the same time finite and unbounded. :-)


Fun fact about german: You can combine almost any noun with any other and still have a valid noun, at least from a grammatical point of view. That doesn't always mean that the word itself makes sense or even represent an actual "thing" in the real world.

So to answer the question: Yes, it is. In this case, the word even describes something that actually exists.

Words like this are often referred to as "snake words" (Schlangewörter), because you can go on and add more nouns to it without making it "wrong".

Example: "Heizölrückstoßabdämpfungstechnikerkabinenschlüsseldekorationsbeauftragtenmobil" - Still a valid german word.


As indicated by markus, this is an example of compound word, a Kompositum. It is perfectly legal in German to create these from as many words as you like; the last word of the compound defines the main meaning, and the word or compound before that acts as refinement, not that different from english:

Kanne > Ölkanne > Heizölkanne (Can > oil can > heating oil can)

Whether the word still makes sense is another matter, of course. In theory, you could build an infinitely long word (and thus, if you do count compounds as "real words", German has infinite words).

So it depends on your definition whether Heizölrückstoßabdämpfung is a real word. Apparently, such an apparatus does not exist, but the meaning is clear, as Isotopp points out.

You could just invent such a thing, and you'll have invented a very real word as well :)


Once I've asked a heating contractor and he told me that he had never heard of this word before. So I guess it's just a clever combination of single words.


According to Wikipedia, Heizölrückstoßabdämpfung is fictitious.

Yet, there's the word Heizölrückstoßdämpfung meaning "heating oil rebound absorver". This word is both true in the sense it exists and it doesn't have grammatical mistakes.

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    Your answer to this (very old) question does not contain anything that is not yet covered by previous answers Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 3:44
  • Hi @VolkerLandgraf. That's not true, it includes this new word "Heizölrückstoßdämpfung" which is similar to the one asked about but not fictitious. Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 6:42

As already written, this word once won the competition in 1998 about a german isogram with each letter only once appearing (german wikipedia), thus it is fictional.

The usage itself I cannot link as I have no student's account any longer to access the information. In my educational program it was widely used in programming courses to demonstrate how sorting algorithms and tree algorithms work.

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