10 German Words and Phrases You Should Learn Before Going to Oktoberfest


Oktoberfest has long become an international tourist destination. And while most of the Munich natives certainly speak some English, the festival still retains its traditional Bavarian origins. (To read more about that, check out my article on the history of the Oktoberfest. Also, see our Best Places to Stay in Munich for Oktoberfest) When celebrating its 200-year anniversary in 2010, the Oktoberfest in Munich included a special section devoted to showcasing its history. Because this special was such a success, it will be included again this year. To come prepared, why not learn a few Bavarian words and phrases before you arrive? Here are 10 essentials:

 1. Bier (beer)

To many, Oktoberfest is synonymous with beer festival. Ordering beer is easy, and the fact that “bier” in German is pronounced the same as in English makes it even easier. Just be sure you control how much of it you order!

2. Prost (cheers)

In many of the tents, you will hear the notorious song “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit…” Prost means cheers in Bavarian, so before you drink that Mass Bier (1L beer), be sure to say that.

Munich for Oktoberfest: September 2009

3. Brez’n (pretzel)

Bavarian pretzels in no way compare to the fake version that is sold on the streets of New York, for example. In fact, upon taking some Munich natives to the Big Apple, they were appalled at the pretzel that is sold at food trucks here; “it tastes like plastic, they said.” The true Bavarian version, on the other hand, is soft and made of fresh dough. You can get them in different sizes and they are a great way to assure that all that beer doesn’t get to your stomach so quickly.

4. Hendl (grilled chicken)

Hendl at Oktoberfest are either ordered as a half or a whole. The most typical is to get Hendl with Pommes, which means French fries.

5. Knöd’l (dumplings)

Bavarian dumplings have nothing in common with the Asian version. The German ones can come in different variations. For example, you can get Semmelknödel, which means dumplings made of bread (spices are added, too, but they tend to be very mild). Kartoffelknödel, on the other hand, are made of potatoes. Usually, they will be accompanied by a creamy sauce.

6. Wies’n (Bavarian word for Oktoberfest)

This word refers to the Theresienwiese, which is the festival ground where the Oktoberfest in Munich is held. The name goes back to the fact that in 1810, the Oktoberfest was initiated as part of the royal wedding celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. Her name still resonates in the tradition of the Oktoberfest today and is also the name of the subway stop where people get off to go to the festival.

7. Ox’n (meat from the ox)

In addition to chicken, there are hundreds of whole oxen being prepared for Oktoberfest. The place to get this kind of meat is at the Ochsenbraterei, literally meaning the place where the oxen are roasted.

8. An Guad’n (Bon Appétit in Bavarian)

So you’ve already learned how to say “Prost,” which applies to cheers for drinking. To cheer on the eating, An Guad’n will help you out.

9. Apfelshorle (apple juice mixed with sparkling water)

Sure, beer is the standard. But for those who don’t want to get drunk (or vary things up a bit), you can order this drink: apple juice mixed with sparkling water. It’s a great refresher after going on all those rollercoasters and bumpy rides.

10. Steckerlfisch (grilled fish on a stick)

Those who want to take a break from meat (or don’t eat it in the first place), can opt for grilled fish on a stick. The best place to get these is at the Fischer Vroni tent.

An Guad’n!!

For more on German foods, read: Top 10 German Foods

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4 thoughts on “10 German Words and Phrases You Should Learn Before Going to Oktoberfest”

  1. Pingback: 10 Things to Do in Munich Now (Besides Oktoberfest)

  2. Pingback: Destination Details: Munich Germany - A Girl’s Guide to Travel, Studying, Working, and Volunteering Abroad

  3. Pingback: 8 Reasons to Visit Luxembourg

  4. Great post! I was on a hunt for an article about traveling to Germany, and came across your post. I especially liked how you
    focused on words related to food and drink here.

    Actually, I just put together an infographic about “10 Must Do’s in Black Forest”. Let me know if you’d like to check it out. If you have any ideas about Black Forest in particular, I’d like to know! -Leah

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