Does the word polyglot, meaning "knowing or using several languages" translate directly into German, or is there an idiomatic equivalent? Google Translate just adds an extra "t" at the end, as German doubles consonants.


4 Answers 4


Polyglott is correct, but it's not widely known. You could use that, but the word mehrsprachig (which is the same), is more common, so I'd recommend using that.


Wiktionary lists the following synonyms for polyglott:

  • multilingual
  • polylingual
  • mehrsprachig

Uni Leipzig lists:

  • mehrsprachig
  • vielsprachig
  • Und als Substantiv dann Viel- oder Mehrsprachler.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Aug 16, 2016 at 21:29

Alternative Answer

In addition to looper's answer, you could also say vielsprachig/mehrsprachig.

This next part is only because you said idiomatic. If you change your thinking a bit, you could say, "he has a talent for languages."

  • Er ist sprachbegabt.
  • Er hat eine Begabung für Sprachen.

It would be implied, although not necessarily true (as looper pointed out in the comment below), that he can speak several languages. I should also note that "begabt" implies an ability given to you e.g. "He has a God-**given* * ability."

  • 1
    Regarding "Er ist sprachbegabt", I'm not sure that's correct. I've frequently been described as "sprachbegabt" by native speakers because my German accent is quite light (/brag), though German is my only foreign language as far as they know. Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 12:21
  • 4
    There's a difference between "vielsprachig" und "sprachbegabt". I'm not "sprachbegabt", but I speak a lot of languages (=>vielsprachig). However, a friend of mine speaks two languages (English and German), learned German in around a year (outside of Germany and without help) and can now follow every conversation. He may be "sprachbegabt", but actually he's not "vielsprachig", because he's just too lazy.
    – looper
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 13:09
  • AmericanUmlaut - love that name.
    – Moshe
    Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 14:14
  • You are correct, looper, sprachbegabt refers a "gift in languages". I will make my answer more specific to clarify this. However, I would still argue that if you speak many languages that you are sprachbegabt whether or not you wish to be. Commented Feb 20, 2013 at 14:37

In addition to "sprachbegabt/vielsprachig" there is also "Sprachtalent" if you are looking for a noun equivalent, which may make for more straight-forward translations.

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