Is there a verb form of “graffiti” in German? The closest I’ve found is “strichen,” though that’s not really what I’m looking for.

  • 16
    My primary association for "strichen" is "to prostitute oneself". Don't use that word. Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 6:57
  • Just out of curiosity. Where did you find this alleged verb of graffiti? "streichen" might be some translation of "to paint". Anyway, I'm for "sprayen". It's a spray, so what you do with it, might be "sprayen". A little bit more old-fashioned might be "malen". At the very least I would understand somebody saying that he is a "Graffiti malen". Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 13:26
  • The term used within the scene is supposedly "taggen". Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 20:49

3 Answers 3


This is a contentious issue.

Those doing/making graffiti say mostly sprühen or sprayen. There are quite a few synonyms, especially within the 'scene'.

If the German target audience is that scene: orient your words on Graffiti-Jargon.

Those doing this are quite a different demographic from mainstream society. What some call (street-) art, others just call Schmierereien. The verb for that would then be schmieren, beschmieren.

The fundamental difference between those words is opinion based (and then some).

Schmieren is clearly derogatory. Sprayen not understood by many on several levels of meaning, conservatism, old people, etc.

References for "Graffiti=Schmierereien":


For a glimpse of German usage and a clouded meaning pattern:

enter image description here
Src: DWDS – Graffiti, das

A proper translation for to graffiti would therefore have to be sprühen. This has in my opinion the least negative or positive connotation, and is therefore also less clear-cut.

As this is about a living language, you may also ask yourself about your own opinion whether streetarten might be the ahem, more fitting translation.

  • 1
    I think schmieren or Schmiererei has a certain difference in meaning when compared to Graffiti: The former generally refers to graffiti in arguably illegitimate places, as it is often seen in public space, whereas the latter can also mean the graphics style often used for graffiti as such. Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 11:06
  • @O.R.Mapper Not wrong, but depends pretty much on demographic.Some can't see anything but Schmierereien regardless of painting surface. That is: even a framed and unshredded Banksy is a Schmiererei to them. Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 11:14
  • There are always some people who do not like or find no "access" to a given work. They may call Rembrandt's works "Schmierereien" and Goethe's works "Gefasel". Yet, I wouldn't list these words as possible translations for "painting" and "literature", respectively, "depending on the demographic". "Schmiererei" for "graffiti", on the other hand, is a somewhat legitimate (if derogatory) translation specifically in the context of graffiti being placed illegitimately. Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 11:39
  • -1 because Schmierereien is only the very negative connotation of a word which is not necessarily bad
    – äüö
    Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 7:42
  • Fat agreement. Maybe I'll add a disclaimer: "AH, but please, mh'äüöhm, well, it's prolly like, uh, dangerous and lowering your IQ by at least -1, because, so y'all should have forgotten better already the very unwanted word of Schmierereien even exists, hmhm, yesyes, or might be used, as there is önly öne cörrect word in each and every case, anyway, this is BIG, so listen: this is only the very negative connotation of a word which is not necessarily bad." Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 9:21

'Graffiti' is an Italian loan-word in both English and German (from graffiato). It can be used in both languages and is a cognate in its noun form.

In common parlance, I'm not aware of a recognized verb form. You might consider phrasing your sentence such that an alternative verb can be used such as: "[etwas] mit Graffiti besprühen".


The word in German for a piece is called "graffito". Graff comes from the united states and as such even we in Europe use the same words the americans used to (or still do) in the culture.

Aside from this most graffiti writers refer to each other as "writers".

  • Graffiti writer from Amsterdam
  • Does this answer if there is a verb form of "graffiti" in German? Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 13:23
  • 1
    Yes. When a writer is making a piece of graffiti, he is "writing" or "schreiben".
    – user92306
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 13:27

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