How would you call direction sign in German? Those are signs located next to roads telling information about right directions to particular cities together with the number of kilometers to get there.


Czech direction sign to Jihlava

US direction sign on Interstate 95

An example sentence would be:

Look, there is direction sign, now we should turn left to continue going to Paris.

So far, I have found:

  • Richtungstafel (die)
  • Hinweisschilder
  • das Richtungsschild
  • 1
    StVO, the German official traffic directive, calls them Vorwegweiser
    – tofro
    Oct 1, 2016 at 21:46

4 Answers 4


Colloquially, you simply call them Wegweiser. As you can see from this list there are some variants like Vorwegweiser or Wegweisertafel, but I never heard them being used, so I think they are technical terms only being used by "road sign professionals".

Note that you can use the word Wegweiser for more or less every sign that indicates a route or direction, as you can tell from its entry on Wikipedia. It is not restricted to the signs along the roads.

Since Wegweiser on roads are special kinds of traffic signs, i.e. Straßenschilder in German, it is no surprise that others have suggested to use this word. To me that would sound a bit uncommon, probably because the word includes all kind of traffic signs and also the plates with the street names. On the other hand, the short form Schild would be appropriate IMHO, in particular in situations where one would prefer short words: "Stop, da war ein Schild - nach Berlin geht es rechts weg!".

  • 2
    If you use the google image search for "Wegweiser" you get mostly signs like this and not road signs. I wouldn't use "Wegweiser" for official road signs, but simply call them "Straßenschild".
    – Iris
    Oct 2, 2016 at 12:47
  • 1
    @Iris The number of search hits on Google is a difficult measure. It could be biased for instance by the fact that sign posts on hiking trails make for a much easier and more attractive photo target. Anyway, I added a paragraph to make clear that the word has a wide area of use. I wouldn't use Straßenschild, though: this would include stop signs or other traffic signs.
    – Matthias
    Oct 2, 2016 at 14:05

I think most Germans would simply call it Straßenschild or Straßenbeschilderung as every other street sign. This road sign contains specific information about the direction. If you want to specify the sign, you can use a sentence like:

Das Straßenschild führt Richtung Berlin.


You asked about Germany, but maybe you also want to know how those signs are called in Austria, where people speak German too.

The Austrian StVO (StraßenVerkehrsOrdnung = road traffic act) would call the sign where you can read »Jihlava« a »Vorwegweiser«. This is how a Vorwegweiser really looks like in Austria:

And this is the version you can find in Germany:

The sign where you can read »Miami« would be a »Überkopfwegweiser«.
Example for a real Austrian Überkopfwegweiser:

Sorry, I don't know how a Überkopfwegweiser is called in Germany. Obviousely it is not »Überkopfwegweiser«, because I couldn't find a picture of a German Überkopfwegweiser.

The generic term for those signs is »Wegweiser«. (Not only in Austria, but everywhere where you speak German)

  • German noun »der Weg« = »way« in English.
  • German verb »weisen« = »to point, guide, show« in English.

So the literal translation of »Wegweiser« is »way-pointer«.
Other literal translations:

  • Vorwegweiser = pre-way-pointer
  • Überkopfwegweiser = overhead-way-pointer

Usage of »Wegweiser« in a sentence:

Look, there is direction sign, now we should turn left to continue going to Paris.
Schau, da ist ein Wegweiser, jetzt sollten wir links abbiegen um weiter nach Paris zu fahren.

  • Die deutsche StVO sieht eine Unterscheidung der Verkehrszeichen nach Anbringungsart (links, rechts, oben) nicht vor, sondern nur nach Bedeutung. Was du da zeigst, ist bei uns auch ein Vorwegweiser.
    – tofro
    Oct 5, 2016 at 15:19

You would call it "Ankündigungstafel" which would mean announce sign.

Here in German: http://www.strassenschilder.de/richtzeichen/ankuendigungstafel/

  • and how about these: Richtungsschild n, Richtungstafel f. They both include the word Richtung - which means a direction. Which one is best?
    – cornejo
    Oct 1, 2016 at 20:56
  • 3
    seldom used words and mostly used in official texts like laws. Oct 1, 2016 at 23:32
  • 1
    Do you really use the word Ankündigungstafel in actual texts, aside from traffic-related legalese? Oct 2, 2016 at 2:13

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