The word "impotent," in German as in English, has two meanings: powerless in general and sexually incapable. In English there are hundreds of slang terms for this, but I've been unable to find any in German. The word "impotent" itself is too technical for my purpose.

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    Common slang: "Schlappschwanz" – πάντα ῥεῖ Apr 19 '19 at 21:07
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    While Schlappschwanz (limp-dick), taken literally, seems to indicate impotence, I have only ever seen it used metaphorically, as pussy, wuss, wimp. – David Vogt Apr 19 '19 at 23:15
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    Could you give some examples for these hundreds of English terms? – Christian Geiselmann Apr 20 '19 at 10:54
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    Thinking about German slang terms for "impotent" I could not remember a single one. There are a lot of terms used by people involved in masculinity cult areas of sports to derogate people as not masculine (Warmduscher and so on), but these seem to avoid direct reference to functions of the sexual organs. Could it be that English (or do you perhaps specifically mean: American English?) has many such terms because there is a special form of male sexualisation in that country? – Christian Geiselmann Apr 20 '19 at 10:58
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    In German, the word is not (or maybe very rarely) used for general lack of power. – Carsten S Apr 20 '19 at 22:30

Wenn jemand impotent ist, dann kriegt der keinen mehr hoch.


wiki DE Tote Hose
"Jugendsprache: Schwunglosigkeit, auch männliche Impotenz"


The OP leaves it open (unless we read only the headline) if he thinks of impotent in terms of sexual activity or impotent in terms of general inability to act in what area ever.

For the latter, terms in use are

Waschlappen (m.)

Lusche (f.)

Note that these are explicitely not being understood as refering to sexual activities.

Also there are terms to accuse people of not being physically impressive:

Hänfling (m.)

Jammergestalt (f.)

Or to behave non-masculinely *

Jammerlappen (m.)

For direct replacements of impotent as an adverb:






  • Whatever "masculine" means. This is an open discussion.

Christian Geiselmanns Liste möchte ich ergänzen um

  • Eunuch
  • Kastrat

die sich insbesondere auf die sexuelle Potenz beziehen, aber auch im übertragenen Sinne benutzt werden.


An euphemistic expression is

nicht mehr können [er kann nicht mehr]

Only used when addressing the elderly:

jenseits von Gut und Böse sein

  • Yes... of course, when the context is already clear (through previous parts of the conversation), many expressions are possible, e.g. Er kriegt's nicht mehr gebacken, Er kriegt den Motor nicht mehr gestartet, and so on. But I have never heard anybody using this. I have never heard anybody talking about this, especially not about others in a derogatory way. Hypothesis: we just do not do this. What I have witnessed is an elderly guy in his 80s making an ironic joke about himself. – Christian Geiselmann Apr 21 '19 at 10:07
  • @ChristianGeiselmann: Abgesehen von medizinischen Fachgesprächen ist es ein Tabu, von Impotenz zu sprechen, insbesondere mit diesem Wort. Wenn schon, wählt man Umschreibungen. Dergleichen höre allerdings auch ich eher nie als selten. Neben der gesprochenen Sprache gibt es aber auch die geschriebene, die die Frage ja nicht ausschließt. – Pollitzer Apr 21 '19 at 11:48

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