Google translate tells me that the German for mobile phone signal is Handy-Signal. Is that right? It sounds a bit odd and I was wondering if anyone can tell me whether it is correct.


2 Answers 2


In German we call a cell phone »Handy«. As far as I know it has nothing to do with the English word »handy«. The German word »Handy« was created in the 1980'ies and comes from English »handheld«. And this also the reason for the English pronunciation of this word.

The Word Signal means quite the same as in English. So the term cell phone signal becomes Handysignal or Handy-Signal (both writings are correct) when translated into German.

In Sweden a cellphone is called a »Ficktelefon« (see http://www.ficktelefon.com), which sounds even more weird to German ears than »Handy« sounds to an English native speaker, since the German word »Ficktelefon« translates into English as »fuck phone«.

  • 1
    Dazu sollte man aber sagen, dass in Schweden eigentlich niemand dieses Wort verwendet - wenigstens ist es mir nie untergekommen. Gängig ist "mobil(en)". But i agree that it sounds slightly amusing to German ears ;)
    – Gerhard
    Commented Feb 10, 2015 at 19:06
  • I remembered how strange it was in school to learn that "handy" - one of the few "english" words I already knew - wasnt actually an english word
    – Flo
    Commented Feb 11, 2015 at 7:13

Yes, it's correct. Better would be Handysignal without hyphen.

The German language has a feature called compounds (exists rarely in English, you can consider teaspoon a compound of tea and spoon).

Handysignal is a compound of Handy and Signal.

  • Why would "Handysignal" be better than "Handy-Signal"?
    – choXer
    Commented Nov 22, 2020 at 13:36

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