I just came across these words Speisekarte and Menü. Can they be used interchangeably? If not,why?

  • 4
    Welcome to German Language SE. Can you please report why you think these words can be used interchangeably and what you have found so far?
    – Wrzlprmft
    Aug 17, 2015 at 18:49
  • I'm learning the language using an application called Duolingo . It highlights the use of these words as such . I checked the meaning of Menü on the net , where it is defined as ' Set meal ' Aug 17, 2015 at 18:57
  • 1
    Well, then. How does that not answer your question?
    – Ingmar
    Aug 17, 2015 at 19:13
  • @Ingmar Admittedly, searching for Speisekarte should have cleared this in a jiffy, but Menü can be tricky. So I chose to answer... If this gets closed, I can delete my answer.
    – Stephie
    Aug 17, 2015 at 19:29
  • 3
    This is not an unreasonable question, as both mean menu in English.
    – Carsten S
    Aug 17, 2015 at 21:48

2 Answers 2


They can't be used interchangeably because they mean two very different things.

  • A Speisekarte is the list of food items / dishes that are offered in a restaurant. Sometimes drinks are included, sometimes there is a separate Getränkekarte for beverages or Weinkarte for wines.
  • A Menü is a sequence of dishes that are served at one meal. A typical Menü would contain three courses, but the number can be indicated by a numeric expression plus the term Gang, (= course) so a Dreigangmenü1 consists of three, a Fünfgangmenü of five courses.

Your set meal is actually a bit misleading:
You can "build your own menu" by choosing a sequence of dishes from the Speisekarte, e.g. a starter, a main dish and a dessert. A set meal is a pre-combined menu that is either offered by the restaurant (e.g. "Menü des Tages", often at a reduced price) or pre-ordered, especially if visiting the restaurant with a larger group where ordering individually might pose a logistic problem for the kitchen.

Side notes:
Don't confuse the German Menü with the English menu, the latter has both the meaning of "available items" and "sequence of dishes".
Also the menu on a computer is (confusingly, IMHO) called Menü in German...

1 also valid: Drei-Gänge-Menü and Dreigängemenü

  • 2
    Müsste es nicht "Dreigängemenü" statt "Dreigangmenü" heißen?
    – Robert
    Aug 18, 2015 at 1:55
  • @Robert - das ist der Begriff der mir vertrauter ist. Duden nennt Dreigamgmenü und empfiehlt Drei-Gänge-Menü statt des (ebenso gültigen) Dreigängemenü. Ist wahrscheinlich dasselbe wie beim Fahrrad. Edit zur Vollständigkeit folgt, danke.
    – Stephie
    Aug 18, 2015 at 4:45
  • @Stephie: Wenn wir schon dabei sind, bitte auch "dreigängiges Menü". Aug 18, 2015 at 14:03
  • 1
    Nach meiner Auffassung: Dreigangschaltung (Fahrrad), Fünfganggetriebe (Auto), Drei-Gänge-Menü (Restaurant). Kann aber nicht ausschließen, dass es da regionale Unterschiede gibt...
    – zebonaut
    Aug 20, 2015 at 15:13

A Speisekarte literally means dish card, and is list of dishes served by the restaurant. It is what an American would mean by the word menu.

A German Menü is something rather different. It represents a full "meal" of multiple courses. There can be several German Menüs listed on a single Speisekarte. The two words are not the same in German and cannot be used interchangeably.

Put another way, the word Menü is a "false friend" in German.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.