Austrian German is different from the regular German spoken in Germany. Many words or expression have a different meaning, and you might not always know what these Austrians are trying to tell you.
Fret not! Thanks to my Austrian wife, we have compiled a useful list of essential Austrian German words when in Austria on a holiday.
Table of Contents
🇦🇹 What is Austrian German?
Austrian German is the standard version of German in the Austrian country.
Dialects variations exist from West to the East. Special regional word occurrences are very common, so that’s why it can get a bit confusing with the language.
Native German speakers from Germany do not understand these words, yet some words may appear in Bavaria (Bayern) in Germany and South Tyrol (Südtirol) in Italy because of the cultural similarities and rich history.
Germans are very direct when they speak, Austrians are more vague and this reflects in the language. The irony in the language is sometimes the cause of some misunderstandings for the German neighbors.
Swiss-German from Switzerland is also entirely unique. Austrians and Germans don’t always understand them.
As you can see, German dialects can be rather confusing. That’s why you get this quick handy guide which also includes some words said in various Austrian dialects.
🗨️ Pronunciation Notes
Words in Austrian German are pronounced phonetically. That means, as you write, you read and speak. Spanish, for example, works in the same way, you speak as you write, word by word, always the same.
Pronouncing the alphabet is therefore different from the English language. Learn quickly on how to pronounce each alphabet in German.
Austrian German pronounces the alphabet the same way as the German German, aka High German.
The letter ß is a double ss. It’s a sharp ss, and you just stretch the s for this sound.
Ä is also spelled Ae, Ü can be spelled Ue and Ö also as Oe.
Dialects in Austria vary a lot from Region to village, at times. You will notice that people pronounce the same words differently in the west vs. the east, which just adds to the confusion.
Know that people tend to eat up words at the end of a word, but the way I wrote the words further below, is the way Austrians would speak. That will help you identify words when they speak and in a written form.
🙋 Casual Senstences and Words
|Grüß dich, Grias di, Grüß Gott, Servus, Hallo, Heil||Greeting, Hello. All are legit and used frequently, depending on the region.|
|Servus, Baba, Pfiat di, Wiederschauen or Wiederschaun, Tschüss||Goodbye|
|Hawi deri or Habe die Ehre||A polite way to greet someone, to say hello.|
|Nid or Ned||Not|
|Danke or Donk da sche||Thank you|
|Bitte schön or Bitte sche or Bittsche||You are welcome|
|Entschuldigung or Verzeihung||Excuse me|
|Nix passiert||Don’t mention it. Direct translation: “nothing happened”.|
|Leiwand||Awesome, only used in the Vienna area.|
|Genau||When someone says that in Austria, it means “yes, exactly”.|
|Brutal||People say it at times randomly while you talk to them. They try to show their amazement or their surprise. Occasionally, it also means that something is massive or that something was really spectacular.|
|Passt or Passt scho||It’s alright, it’s enough.|
|Zahlen bitte or Zoin bitte||The bill, please|
|Guaden morgen||Good morning|
|Guade nocht||Good night|
|Mahlzeit or Moizeit||Have a good appetite, enjoy your food time. Very commonly said at 12 pm because Austrians eat at exactly 12 pm.|
|Bussi, Busserl||It means a kiss, but people just say it sometimes when they say good by. I.E “Bussi Tschüss!”|
|Oja or doch||When someone says that, they mean to make a point that it’s true. Direct translation: yes, yes!|
|Schmäh||This word has a few meanings. When someone says it’s a Schmäh after a sentence, they mean to say it’s just a joke (from an ironic perspective). Yet, Schmäh also defines a scam, a trick or an untruth.|
🍺 Food and Restaurants
|Jause or Jausn||Snack time, usually cold food. Mostly used in the alpine area in mountain restaurants in the West.|
|Alm||Small mountain restaurants/ mountain farm house where the cows stay in the summer. When you go hiking you will encounter Alms, where you can get refreshments and small Jause plates with deli meat, cheese slices, bacon, and bread.|
|Buschenschanken or Buschenschänke||Small Restaurant-like wine taverns run by vineyard owners. They serve their wine with small Jause specialties from the region. These are more commonly found in East Austria in Lower Austria, Styria, and Burgenland.|
|Beisl||A small food place in Vienna area.|
|Tschecherl /Tschocherl||A small, simple local place serving alcohol in Vienna.|
|Schanigarten||Outdoor setup of a restaurant, such as tables on a sidewalk or outdoor garden area.|
|Heuriger||A young wine from the same year. The eastern parts of Austria are known for their white wines and Heuriger.|
|Hoibe or Halbe or Krügl or Krügerl||0.5 liter glass beer. That’s usually the biggest glass of beer that you can get in Austria. They are bigger in the neighboring Bavaria in Germany (1 liter there, which is called a Maß).|
|Seidl or Seitl||0.3 liter glass beer. That’s a small beer.|
|Pfiff||0.2 liter glass beer. It’s the smallest beer you can get.|
|Geschpritzt or Gschpritzt||They add that expression to fruit juices, such as apple juice. When a juice is geschpritzt it means water is added, you can choose between plain water or carbonated water.|
|Kracherl||Lemonade with Soda Water|
|Schnitzel||The Vienna Schnitzel is the most well-known Schnitzel, which is flattened meat. They come breaded or unbreaded with a sauce, such as the Jägerschnitzel. Many Schnitzel variations exist in Austria. The classic Wiener Schnitzel is prepared with veal meat and it’s breaded.|
|Hendl||Chicken, usually roasted chicken.|
|Frankfurter Würstel or Wurst||Vienna Sausages also called Wiener in the US.|
|Gulasch||Sauce well seasoned meat dish, related to the Hungarian pörkölt and goulash soup.|
|Knödel||Dumplings, which are either savory or sweet. Many variations of Knödel exist, also in Bavaria, Germany. The most notable regional Knödel specialties that you should try on a trip to Austria, are the Speckknödel and Kaspressknödel from Tyrol, as well as the Germknödel and Marillenknödel.|
|Speck||Local fine bacon with lard. More commonly found in the west and mostly smoked.|
|Kren||Horseradish. Ground horseradish is served with meats or added to mustard pastes in Austria.|
|Mehlspeise||A flour-based dessert such as dumplings and Kaiserschmarren. These are part of the Austrian cuisine and can be commonly seen on Menus.|
|Schmarrn||It either means a scratch pancake or the word nonsense.|
|Obers or Schlagobers||Whipping Cream, usually served with cakes or over coffee.|
|Verlängerter||Black Coffee/ Cafe Americano|
|Melange||A milk coffee in Vienna. They have a rich coffee house tradition in Vienna and names for various coffee specialties.|
|Haferl or Schale||A cup|
|Toiletten, WC, Haisl or Heisl||Toilet or washroom|
We have compiled a list of Austrian German to English Food words because that list is rather large. Every odd word, which Germans won’t understand either, on an Austrian menu will be in this Austrian food List.
🛒 Grocery Shopping
|Deka||Short form for deka grams. A metric unite measuring mass. 10 grams = 1 deka. You’ll find this mainly in grocery stores at the sausage deli section.|
|Paradeiser||Tomatoes. But this word is only used by east Austrians, the west just says Tomatoes.|
|Erdäpfel||Potatoes. Although, some people say Kartoffel these days too.|
|Marillen||Apricots. Those are like the national fruit.|
|Zwetschge||local plum variety|
|Extrawurst||A local deli sausage type. You ca order thinly sliced Extrawurst and Semmel bun sandwiches at the local grocery store deli counter. Other deli sausages in Austria can be turned into sandwiches as well. Those are affordable are great if you are moving.|
|Fleischkäse or Leberkäse||Meatloaf. Can be bought at the deli section in grocery stores. They cut it into slices, you pick a topping such as mustard or pickles and all that is served in a Semmel bread bun. In the west they say Fleischkäse in the East from Salzburg onwards Leberkäse.|
|Topfen||The Austrian version of Quark (German), it’s a heavy creamy curd. They usually come in rectangular plastic containers.|
|Maroni||Chestnuts. Roasted chestnuts are sold as street food in November and December.|
|Krapfen||Doughnut filled with apricot jam. Incidentally, everything is apricot jam in Austria.|
|Sackerl or Tascherl or Packl||Bag, mainly a grocery bag or a bag to place in a pastry.|
|Pfand||Associated with glass bottles for beer and other bottle drinks. Bottles with the word Pfand on it can be given back to be recycled, and you get money back for that.|
🚕 Other Words
|Fiaker||Horse carriage with two horses. Those can be hired in places like Vienna and Salzburg.|
|Garni||When rooms are rented as garni, they mean to give a room with a small basic breakfast. Those are frequently rented out by small private people and not hotel chains.|
|Halb Pension||A hotel room with breakfast and dinner included.|
|Dirndl||A girl, but it also means a traditional dirndl dress. Typically, nowadays only used on fair days.|
|Lederhosen||Traditional leather pants for men. People wear them at fairs (Yes, nowadays also a few women).|
If something is missing or if you have a question, please leave a comment further below in the comments section.