In English, when speaking to children, adults sometimes use words like "doggie" for dog, "boo-boo" to refer to an injury, or "upsy-daisy" if a child falls. Do Germans have something similar when they speak to babies and young children?

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    Do you think there is any language that doesn't have such words?
    – Robert
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 20:40
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    @Robert The question literally asks whether there are such words in German, to which the answer is clearly yes. However, looking just beyond the literal meaning of the words in the question, OP obviously wants to know about some specific examples in German. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 4:37
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    @ZubinMukerjee It wouldn't hurt to specifically ask for examples in the question, though.
    – Arsak
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 10:03
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    Intersting, "Bonbon" used to be a children's language and was included into the normal vocabulary de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kindersprache
    – Iris
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 10:40
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    Hm. I know quite a lot of adult writing that uses the word “doggie”. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 13:53

4 Answers 4


Yes, German does have these kind of words. I'll borrow some of your examples:

  • Doggie would be Wauwau, also a pretty childish term.
  • Boo-boo could be translated as Wehweh, Wehchen or plainly as Aua (which is in this context rather used for children/babies).
  • Upsy-daisy is similar to Hoppla, but that's a term that can be used for other age groups, too.

Other examples would be pipi and kaka, translated as pee-pee and poo-poo. (credits to @Fabby)

You will notice the similarities here: doubling the syllables. This is often an indicator for more childish words, or words used with babies. This can be derived from the simplicity of these words, regarding the low state of language development of the babies. (e.g. Wehweh, Mama, Papa,...)

The words are often results of onomatopoeia, too: e.g. Wauwau, Lala (music), BrummBrumm (car), ...

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    You forgot "kaka" which is a universal Indo-European word... (at least in the ones I know...) ;-)
    – Fabby
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 19:51
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    Die Lulu in some dialects is the same as das Pipi. Which is of course very awkward if your name is literally Lulu. (lullen – to pee)
    – Janka
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 21:04
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    Das Baba is anything the baby should not touch.
    – Janka
    Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 21:08
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    So, und nach dem Mammam (essen) machen wir Heiaheia (wir gehen schlafen). Ba, das ist igittegitt (eklig). Commented Sep 27, 2018 at 22:44
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    Pullermann - Word for the male parts
    – Ulf
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 11:23

Do Germans have something similar when they speak to babies and young children?

Yes, we do. This is called Baby Talk. On the German Wikipedia it is defined as follows:

Unter Baby Talk oder Motherese (Aussprache: [ˈmʌðəɹiːs]; engl.), fachsprachlich Infant-directed speech, ungenau auch Ammensprache, Kinder- oder Babysprache oder umgangssprachlich „Mutterisch“ oder „Elterisch“ genannt, versteht man eine Varietät einer Sprache, die bevorzugt gegenüber Säuglingen und Kleinkindern gebraucht wird.

An example is Husch-Husch for Eisenbahn (a train).

  • Ich habe die Kommentare über die ursprüngliche Fassung der Antwort gelöscht. Falls jemand denkt, dass es es unserer Etikette entspricht, Fragen derart wortwörtlich zu nehmen, möge er dies bitte auf German Language Meta vorbringen.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 12:32
  • Ergänzenswert zu diesem "bevorzugt" wäre an dieser Stelle der Hinweis auf die Sprache 'Kindisch'. Oder die Infantilisierung des Sprachgebrauchs, wenn exakt diese oder ähnliche Wörter und Wendungen unter Erwachsenen verwendet werden. Das is nämlich wirklich zum Bäuerchen mit Land machen. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 13:31

Also commonly used:

  • in die Heia gehen = ins Bett gehen (go to bed)
  • killekille machen = kitzeln (to tickle)
  • kikeriki = den Ruf des Hahns nachahmen (mimic the cock's call)
  • Töfftöff = Auto (car)
  • winke, winke machen = mit der Hand winken (wave one's hand)

All examples are labelled as Kindersprache by Duden, unfortunately you can't specify that in the search.

  • Oje, das Wort "killekille" weckt schreckliche Erinnerungen :-O
    – Iris
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 8:51
  • @Iris: Dann wurdest du wohl – befummelt?
    – Pollitzer
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 9:02
  • ich fange bis heute an hysterisch zu kichern, wenn man auf mich zukommt, die Hände ausstreckt, die Finger bewegt und "Killekille" sagt. Harte Konditionierung :´D
    – Iris
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 9:04

some words that come to my mind (and no idea how common they are :D )

  • papa - daddy / father
  • mama - mom / mother
  • opi - grandfather
  • omi - grandmother
  • pipi and kacka - things better to be brought to the toilet
  • Bubu (machen) - sleep ( to sleep )
  • Balla - a ball
  • Happi - pacifier
  • Nucki - pacifier
  • Schnulli- pacifier
  • kiekuck! - after hiding for some seconds, to greet the baby when it sees you
  • Pulla - baby bottle

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