Might there be someone who knows of additional monosyllabic German words which translate to a multi-syllabic English word?

My Turn:

Der Stau    ==  The trafficjam

And my favorite

um == around 

I originally thought die Achsel would make this list, but looking closer it looks like its on the higher end of the single syllable spectrum so there may be room for debate.

  • 2
    Isn't it "traffic jam", two words? – DonHolgo Apr 9 '19 at 8:28
  • I find this question a bit difficult, since often, there is no one-to-one translation, but there are several options how to translate a word (depending on the context). To give an example: yes, one translation of traffic jam is Stau, but you could also say Verkehrsstau. If also seen jam as a translation for Stau, which would be a single syllable... So, would you say any possible translation would be a correct answer, as long as the number of syllables are one vs many? – Arsak Apr 9 '19 at 9:01
  • In addition, there will be multiple possible answers: how will you decide in the end, which is the best? – Arsak Apr 9 '19 at 9:05
  • 2
    (1) Knowing such word pairs is pointless. (2) There are certainly lots of them, which is why this question is too broad. (3) A word may have different translations. For example, depending on the context, jam could be translated to Stau, Marmelade, Gedränge, Dilemma or whatsoever. – Björn Friedrich Apr 9 '19 at 9:09
  • 3
    Question: Why Achsel? That's a bisyllabic word, to my understanding? – Christian Geiselmann Apr 9 '19 at 10:05

This question asks to be answered through collecting words in a community wiki. Which I hereby create. Knowledgeable folks, come and join!

(I start with those that were mentioned already in the question and first answers)

Good ones

  • All → universe (but also: space)

  • Amt → agency, office, department

  • Angst → anxiety (but also: fear, angst)

  • arg → severe, terrible, eerie (but also: bad)

  • auch → also

  • auf → onto, upon, open, ... (but also: on, up, at, to , in)

  • an → upon (but also: on, at, to, by, in)

  • Bahn → railroad, railway (but also: train, rail, lane, tram, way)

  • Bauch → stomach, belly (but also: waist, bunt)

  • bei → nearby

  • Berg → mountain (but also: hill, alp, berg, mount, peak, plane, run)

  • Brät → sausage meat

  • Brauch → custom

  • Bund → association, covenant, federation, ... (but also: bunch, league, tie, band, coil)

  • bunt → colourful (but also: stained, gay)

  • Dampf → vapor

  • Deutsch → German

  • Dorf → village

  • Duft → fragrance, flavor, odor/odour (but also: smell, scent)

  • dumm → stupid, silly (but also: dense, dull, dumb)

  • Dunst → vapor

  • Eis → ice cream (but also: ice)

  • Fall → issue, matter (but also: fall, drop, case)

  • Fass → barrel (but also cask, drum, butt)

  • fein → subtle, delicate, ... (but also: fine, nice, keen)

  • Fest → party, festival

  • flach → shallow (but also: flat, plain)

  • Fluss → river

  • Forst → forest

  • Frau → woman (but also wife, miss)

  • Fund → finding (but also: find, trove)

  • gelb → yellow

  • Gift → poison, venom, toxin

  • Greif → griffin

  • hohl → hollow

  • Huhn → chicken (but also: hen, fowl)

  • jäh → precipitous, sudden, abrupt

  • Kaff → hicksville, dullsville (but also dump, chaff)

  • Köln → Cologne

  • Kost → diet (but also: fare, food)

  • Kot → faeces (but also: dung, dirt, scat))

  • Kraft → power (but also: force, strength, vigor/vigour, load, vim)

  • Land → country (but also: land, ground, soil)

  • leer → empty (but also: blank, void, vain)

  • Mann → husband (but also: man, male, guy)

  • neu → novel

  • oft → often

  • Pfand → deposit, forfeit, ... (but also: pawn, pledge, gauge)

  • reif → mature (but also: ripe*)

  • Rind → cattle (but also: cow)

  • Ruf → reputation (but also: call, cry, fame, shout, rep, whoop, hoot)

  • sanft → gentle, mellow, ... (but also: soft, mild, bland, meek, suave)

  • schal → stalely (but also: flat, stale)

  • Schal → muffler (but also: scarf, shawl)

  • Schloss → castle (but also: lock)

  • schwer → heavy (but also: big, hard, rich)

  • Spatz → sparrow

  • Speck → bacon (but also: flab, speck)

  • Stadt → city (but also: town, burg)

  • Stall → stable

  • steif → rigid (but also: stiff, prim, firm, taut, stark)

  • Stift → pencil (but also: pen, giv, nib, peg, bold, nail, spike, stud, pin, ...)

  • Streit → dispute, quarrel (but also: fight, brawl, clash, strife)

  • streng → rigorous (but also: strict, stiff, tight, stern, grim)

  • Streu → litter (but also: mulch)

  • Tang → seaweed (but also: kelp)

  • Tausch → exchange, tradeoff (but also: swap)

  • Text → lyrics (but also: text)

  • Tisch → table (but also: desk)

  • Turm → tower (but also: spire, rook)

  • um → around (but also: at, round, for, to)

  • Vieh → cattle (but also: brute, stock)

  • Wald → forest (but also: wood(s))

  • Wanst → belly (but also: paunch)

  • weg → away (but also: far, off)

  • Weib → woman

  • Wurst → sausage (but also: link, snag)

  • Wut → fury, anger (but also: rage, ire, wrath)

  • Zoff → trouble

  • Zoll → customs

  • Zorn → anger (but also: rage, ire, wrath)

More questionable ones

  • Stau → traffic jam; but: Verkehrsstau

  • Klo → toilet; but: loo

  • Balg → bellows; but only in this meaning; many other meanings of Balg have monosyllabic English solutions (brat, felt, skin, bag, pod...); also bellows = Blasebalg

  • Schmand → sour cream (unless you find cream sufficient; but from a German perspective cream is too unspecific as it covers also süße Sahne, and for us saure Sahne and süße Sahne are things from two different universes)

Note: Now that the list has become surprisingly long, it seems the idea of "good ones versus questionable ones" does not hold water. The idea was to separate those that have definitely no monosyllabic equivalent in English ("good ones") from those that have both multisyllabic and monosyllabic equivalents ("not so good ones") But as almost every word in a language has multiple equivalents in a target language, depending on meaning and context, it is not really a practical criterion: one can open up the semantical field and will eventually find a monosyllabism also for those words that initially seem "good". I consider merging the two lists into one... (Christian)


I got another one German: Das Huhn English: Chicken

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