Is this term only well-known in Southern Germany or also in the deep North? Is there short alternatives for modern High German? Does anyone know a similar English short expression?

  • For the record: Never heard this in the deep North. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 20:45
  • In the hohen Norden or hoch im Norden. Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 0:52
  • Here in Franconia, everyone will understand this, but you don't hear it very often.
    – 0x6d64
    Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 6:33

7 Answers 7


The term isn't even well-known in all of southern Germany - a Bavarian, for example, might well not know it. According to Wikipedia:

Der Begriff wird insbesondere für einen Beigeschmack von Speisen und Getränken oder einen verdorbenen Geruch verwendet und im übertragenen Sinn für Sonderbarkeit, spezifische, anderen auffallende und widerwärtige oder lächerliche Art eines Individuums oder Standes benutzt.

The term seems to carry a connotation of an unpleasant or weird taste. I'm not aware of any single high German term with the exact same connotations. "Beigeschmack" probably comes closest, but isn't used in quite exactly the same way. In some cases, you can also use "anrüchig".

(Edited to add some suggestions, thanks, commenters!)

  • 9
    Ich würde Beigeschmack noch etwas hervorheben - das wird doch genau so benutzt. Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 20:21
  • 2
    Very rarely, in literary language or on high literary levels, the french hautgout is used.
    – tohuwawohu
    Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 5:37
  • 7
    I think "anrüchig" actually hits it pretty well. Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 6:43
  • @Katharina: I knew there is something more nosy than 'Beigeschmack', it was laying on my tongue! :) Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 0:47
  • @tohuwabohu: I would use 'hautgout' more often, if I knew how to write it. :) Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 0:48

Actually the German Wikipedia uses "anrüchig" as an expression for "Gschmäckle" for High German, which is what I have heard it as as well. The word "Beigeschmack" as mentioned in an earlier comment works too, but I think "anrüchig" nails it.

Leo.org suggests to translate "anrüchig" with "dingy".

  • 5
    Ich finde 'Beigeschmack' etwas schwächer, weil es Platz für einen Hauptgeschmack läßt, der bei 'anrüchig' nicht so präsent ist. Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 0:50
  • I absolutely agree with that. Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 1:10

In High German you could say

Die Sache stinkt. / Das ist oberfaul.

for the figuratively used Gschmäckle.

In English

It's fishy / not quite kosher.

  • 11
    "nicht ganz koscher" gibt's auch im Deutschen :) Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 20:49
  • @OregonGhost stimmt!
    – splattne
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 20:53
  • 8
    "Das ist oberfaul." is a lot stronger than "Das hat ein Gschmäckle.".
    – user568
    Commented Aug 16, 2011 at 21:19
  • 1
    While I'm not coming from the south and know the German term more in passing (I sure haven't ever used it myself, for example), I think 'fishy' is a pretty good English equivalent. That's exactly how I use 'fishy' in English. At least for those meanings of 'Gschmäckle' which aren't explicitly referring to food. Commented Aug 18, 2011 at 21:37
  • 3
    Are you sure "oberfaul" is standard German (Hochdeutsch)? It seems closer to youth language to me.
    – Kage
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 21:05

Actually "Gschmäckle" is being used and understood across Germany in its metaphorical use. There, it describes something about a person's actions that might possibly be regarded as inappropriate, especially in political or economical contexts.

E.g. Shortly after Chancellor Schröder was voted out of office, he took on a highly-paid position with the Russian state-owned oil and gas company "Gazprom". Previously (as Chancellor), Schröder had brought about a deal between Germany and Russia concerning the building of a new gas pipeline.

So, people said that Schröder's move to Gazprom had a 'Gschmäckle'.

In that context, "Beigeschmack" is a close alternative in High German.

  • @autistic: Why are you posting this here, and not on the original SO thread? Anyhow, of course valgrind will report a leak. In practise, on any modern OS, the OS will release all memory of a program once it terminates. I'm not saying one should leave "normal" cleanup to the OS, but in cases where the situation of a failed realloc is handled by an immediate call to exit() I think it is quite acceptable to let the OS clean up. Things might be different in embedded systems or very old environments. But even DOS did clean up after a program exited...unless it was TSR program.
    – GermanNerd
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 10:18
  • Yo can verify this by allocating a substantial amount of memory, not freeing it, pause it, then exit. In between, look at your total system's memory (linux: >free - m< or, more dynamic, use htop.)
    – GermanNerd
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 10:20
  • Your logical fallacy is anecdotal. "Anyhow, of course valgrind will report a leak." ... this is because there is a leak... in a career where you would be instructed to use this tool, do you think QA would agree or disagree with you? Perhaps on your system, exit causes memory to be reclaimed... this isn't required by the standard, though. That's the thing about C, it isn't defined by your system, or even most systems, but by ISO/IEC 9899:201x... something which I cited, which compiler devs must adhere to, which you're arguing with.
    – autistic
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 10:30
  • I'm done here, StackOverflow is not beginner-friendly as it once was; it became a "jobs" network which fuels anti-competitive behaviour. Feel free to flag these comments when you're done. I won't hold a grudge, as I will admit that these comments don't belong here... the problem is that I can't respond on the main site due to a ban. There are quite a few who will try to exaggerate rudeness of facts I present, I suspect their motivation is that anti-competitive stuff I referred to... now, I'm going to go and enjoy reddit, where that stupid behaviour doesn't happen so much. Peace.
    – autistic
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 10:51
  • On one final note, I wonder what happens if you use realloc like this in a shared process such as Windows services (where your process shares physical address space with other services)... hmmmm...
    – autistic
    Commented Mar 23, 2019 at 10:52

As was already stated Gschmäckle is definetely a bad aftertaste. "Beigeschmack" doesn't transport that for be. It would be "schlechter beigeschmack". Gschmäckle mustn't cover all taste. (I went to school in Stuttgart ;-))

  • I would suggest to use "fader Beigeschmack" instead of "schlechter Beigeschmack" here.
    – Jens
    Commented Jul 4, 2019 at 13:59

Sehr hochgestochen-altmodisch-bildungssprachlich kann man sagen:

Die Sache hat ein Odeur.

Ich fürchte bloß, dass 60 Prozent der deutschsprechenden Population den Satz dann nicht oder nur ahnungsweise verstehen.


The non-regional term would be Geschmack, which could be translated as taste or flavour.

  • 9
    I think "Geschmack" is too neutral here, since "Gschmäckle" is supposed to express more than just taste but more like an aftertaste, in a bad way. Commented Aug 17, 2011 at 3:34
  • 3
    "Gschmäckle" has absolutely nothing to do with taste, but rather with smell. Swabian dialect uses "schmecken" for "riechen"
    – tofro
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 14:47

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