There are some words in German which sound as if they were English foreign words, but have a completely different meaning in English, e.g.:

Handy – mobile phone

Homeoffice – Working from Home

This is different from false friends, because they are new recently created words and, such as in the case of Handy, many Germans think that it is just English.

Links to lists of such words are welcome as well.

BTW: the German Homeoffice has the synonyms Telearbeit and Heimarbeit.

  • 2
    "home office" (with a space) is a valid english word though: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_office/home_office
    – Pekka
    May 29 '11 at 16:31
  • 4
    I reject your premise that these are not false friends. "Es handelt sich hierbei um Paare von Wörtern oder Ausdrücken aus zwei Sprachen, die orthografisch oder phonetisch ähnlich sind, jedoch unterschiedliche Bedeutungen haben. [...] Dabei können die Wörter entweder ursprungsverwandt sein, sich aber verschieden entwickelt haben [...], oder eine rein zufällige Ähnlichkeit aufweisen." Suits to a T.
    – RegDwight
    May 29 '11 at 16:57
  • 3
    @RegDwight In any case they would be a special subclass and the situation is different. The native speaker is not aware, that the foreigner might misunderstand him, because he thinks it is a known foreign word.
    – bernd_k
    May 30 '11 at 4:58
  • @RegDwight: Zu Handy ist allenfalls handy ähnlich, welches handlich bedeuttet. Was zu home office der false friend sein soll, darüber rätsel ich noch. Jul 29 '14 at 4:31

Wikipedia calls them "pseudo-anglicisms" and has a long list of them from a number of different languages.


I don't know if there is a linguistic term for it, but I would call it pseudoenglische Wortschöpfung or simply Pseudoenglisch.

Another term in German is Scheinanglizismus, a sub-term of what German linguistics call Pseudoentlehnungen.

Other examples:

  • Showmaster
  • Talkmaster
  • Oldtimer
  • Body bag (eigentlich: Leichensack)
  • Another term is Dinglisch which is a fword created from the two words Deutsch and Englisch
    – FUZxxl
    May 29 '11 at 16:58
  • 11
    @FUZxxl: We call it normally Denglisch, with an e.
    – swegi
    May 29 '11 at 18:09
  • 2
    @FUZxxl: According to Google and Wikipedia, there is.
    – swegi
    May 29 '11 at 18:33
  • 6
    another lovely example is "Beamer" ^^
    – ladybug
    May 29 '11 at 20:06
  • 3
    Another example I can think of seems to be pan-European, appearing in at least a few languages: "camping" to mean "campground". Jun 2 '11 at 14:29

here are a few more:

  • Evergreen. english: a tree that is also green in winter. german: an old song that is still widely known.
  • Beamer: a projector (idk: does this word exist in English?)
  • public viewing. english: presenting the corpse of a deceased. german: TV in public places (sometimes using a beamer ehm projector)

an essay on the topic, which lists a few more examples: http://www.vds-ev.de/textbeitraege/729-text-blockbuster . The site also has a huge index of anglicisms, but has no special index for the misleading ones.

a bb thread on the subject: https://de.pokerstrategy.com/forum/thread.php?threadid=984028 includes the hint to google for "false friends".

  • 2
    This does not answer the question. Btw, a BMW is colloquially called a beamer (possibly with different spelling).
    – Carsten S
    Jun 13 '16 at 14:49
  • @CarstenS, I thought so, too, but the question states "Links to lists of such words are welcome as well."
    – Iris
    Jun 13 '16 at 15:14
  • @Iris and Titus, ah, ok.
    – Carsten S
    Jun 13 '16 at 15:15
  • 1
    On the other hand, Evergreen is no pseudo-anglizismus (oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/evergreen?q=evergreen) and beamer and public viewing are already listed in the long wikipedia list in the answer of trema. And the pokerstategy-link is just a unstructrured forum in German.
    – Iris
    Jun 13 '16 at 15:17

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