What is a good translation of the word passphrase into German? I refer, of course, to the technical term. I.e. when used with encryption.

Would it be legit to use the old, but arguably suitable, German word: Losung?

What do you folks think about:

  • Kennwortsatz
  • Schlüsselsatz
  • 3
    Parole and Losungs sounds both wrong for me - it implicit a military or criminal usage in real life - not a IT usage. I would use passphrase as a foreign word or maybe Passwort-Satz or Passwörteror Passwort-Kombination. Attention: Passwort-Satz is sometimes used as a memory hook for a password.
    – knut
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 18:48
  • 3
    Why not simply Passphrase? There are hundreds of technical terms where German does not have an own word.
    – Em1
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 19:09
  • 4
    Deutsche Aussprache. Phrase gibt's auch im Deutschen. Und Passphrase wird auch in deutschen Texten verwendet. Wenn man mal etwas googelt, findet man da einiges. - Also wenn ich ne Antwort schreiben würde, wäre diese definitiv "Passphrase".
    – Em1
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 20:44
  • 2
    Passphrase ist für mich 100% ein Deutsches Wort
    – Emanuel
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 21:19
  • 2
    I like the idea of using Losung. Its meaning is exactly the original meaning of a password, but without the implication of a single word. The only downside is that you will often not be understood ;)
    – Carsten S
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 0:12

4 Answers 4


The mostly used German word for both, a password and a passphrase is "Passwort".

For example see this guide from the Bundesamt für Sicherheit und Informationstechnik on data encryption where we read about a "Passwort" when in fact a passphrase was meant:

Der geheime Schlüssel wird zusammen mit der Partition / Volume abgespeichert. Dieser geheime Schlüssel wird mit einem Passwort gesichert. Die Sicherheit Ihrer Daten hängt wesentlich von der Komplexität (Sonderzeichen, Zahlen, Groß- und Kleinschreibung) und Länge (z. B. 20 Zeichen) der Zeichenfolge des Passwortes ab. BSI

Only recently the importance to make a difference between a simple password and a more complex passphrase was recognized:

  • Im Zusammenhang mit PGP hat sich die Formulierung "Passphrase" anstelle von "Passwort" eingebürgert. Damit soll betont werden, dass ein einzelnes Wort keine ausreichende Sicherheit bietet. Unabhängiges Landeszentrum für Datenschutz

  • Der komplette PC, einzelne Daten oder persönliche Anmeldungen im Internet werden mit einem Passwort geschützt. Für die Wahl des Passworts empfiehlt es sich, auf einfache Begriffe oder Namen zu verzichten. Sicherer sind so genannte Passphrasen. Das heißt, man denkt sich einen Satz, ein Sprichwort oder ein Zitat aus und nutzt etwa die ersten Buchstaben als Passwort.Internet ABC

  • Ein Kennwort ist eine Zeichenfolge, die für den Zugriff auf Informationen oder einen Computer verwendet wird. Passphrasen sind in der Regel länger als Kennwörter, um ein noch höheres Maß an Sicherheit zu bieten. Microsoft

These examples also show that we do not have a good translation for passphrase but rather use the same word as loanword. This is made easy as both words "Pass", and "Phrase" are proper German nouns which are used to build this composite noun.

Rarely we can also hear the Sanskrit term "Mantra" professionals use for a passphrase. This term is not widely known to the public in the context of data encryption.

Deshalb brauchen Sie das "Mantra", um mit Ihrem geheimen Schlüssel zu entschlüsseln oder zu signieren. GnuPG

In summary in the context of data encryption "Passphrase" is well understood by technical savy persons, and more and more by laymen too. Only if we had good reasons to not use a not yet so thoroughly established loanword we may also use "Passwort", or "sicheres Passwort".

  • 1
    I think that Bundesamt used that word without translation because they haven't had interest in finding one. That's why you can't use that as proove.
    – SchcS
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 21:24
  • @SchcS: agreed, but those are good points indeed. +1 and thanks. Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 22:36
  • Ich lese dein Zitat eher so Dieser geheime Schlüssel wird mit einem Passwort gesichert. Damit wäre "Geheimer Schlüssel" die Übersetzung von Passphrase.
    – Wolf
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 22:15

Kennwort and Passwort are both commonly used.

  • 1
    ... and have a different meaning ;) Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 22:35
  • 3
    Their literal translations certainly have different meanings but in colloquial use, I can't think of a scenario where they couldn't be used interchangeably.
    – CTKlein
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 16:30

In computer programs, passphrase is most typically translated as Kennwort (even though it would fit the word password better) or Passphrase indeed.


A chain of words is called Wortgruppe. So what about Kennwortgruppe? Sometimes it's as simple as that. Kennwortsatz sounds too much like a full sentence in its grammatical meaning. Losung sounds more like Motto. Parole sounds like an adventure.

  • "Parole" sounds foreign to me and comes closer to "Motto" than "Losung". "Losung" sounds spot on, but somehow old-style. "Kennwortgruppe" is a nice idea. +1, thanks. Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 19:41
  • [Kenn/Pass]wörter-Gruppe or [Kenn/Pass]wörtergruppe may sound even better. Although I like the original suggestion because it sounds plain German.
    – äüö
    Commented Sep 19, 2013 at 7:00
  • I'd understand Kennwortgruppe as a set of passwords, each of which can be used individually. Commented Aug 31, 2014 at 9:42

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