German Glossary

German is spoken in the countries of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Records written in German may be found in these countries as well as in parts of Poland, Denmark, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Hungary, and wherever German people settled. This includes some early records of the United States, such as in Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin, and other states where Germans lived.
 
There are several different dialects in the German language.
 
German words for persons, places, and things (nouns) are always capitalized.
 
All nouns are classified as masculine, feminine, or neuter. This classification is called gender. The gender of a noun is indicated by der (masculine), die (feminine), and das (neuter), which translates as "the."
 
Word endings may vary, depending on the way the words are used in the sentence.
 
In German, as in English, the forms of some words will vary according to how they are used in the sentence.
 
Adjectives describe nouns and must have the proper masculine, feminine, or neuter endings.
 
Plural words are usually formed by adding -er, -en, or -e. For example, the word Kind becomes Kinder, the word Frau becomes Frauen, and the word Aufgebot becomes Aufgebote.
 
Plurality may also change the vowel slightly. As an example, Mann becomes Männer.
 
Many words in German are formed by joining two or more words and you may need to look up each part of the word separately.  An example is, Geburtstag -- a combination of two words, Geburt (birth) and Tag (day).
 
Written German uses several letters in addition to the 26 letters used in the English alphabet. These are Ä (ä), Ö (ö), Ü (ü), and ß. Historically, German also included Ÿ (ÿ) which today have been primarily replaced phonetically with the letters I (i) and Ü (ü).
 
Because spelling rules were not standardized in earlier centuries, spelling variations are common. Local dialect often affects the spelling in genealogical records. In German records, the following letters are sometimes used interchangeably:
 
·      p used for b
·      a used for e
·      t used for d or dt
·      s used for z
·      ck used for k
·      y used for i or j
·      v used for w or f
·      k used for g
·      tz used for z
·      ig used for isch or ich
·      t used for th
·      u used for i
 
Here are some words you may encounter in searching German records:
 
Alter (in Jahren)
 
age (in years)
Abkömmling,
 
descendant
Ahnen
 
ancestor
Ahnenforschung
 
genealogy
Ahnentafel
 
pedigree 
April
 
April
Archiv
 
archive
Armee
 
army records
Aufgebote
 
marriage banns
August
 
August
Auswanderer
 
emigrant
Auswanderung
 
emigration
Base (female)
 
cousin
Beerdigt
 
buried
Beerdigung
 
burial
Begraben
 
buried
Begräbnis
 
burial
Belgien
 
Belgium
Beruf
 
occupation
Bestattet
 
buried
Bisheriger Wohnort
 
previous residence
Bruder
 
brother
Brüder
 
brothers
Bulgarien
 
Bulgaria
Cousin
 
cousin
Cousins
 
cousins
Datum
 
date
Deutschland
 
Germany
Dezember (10ber, 10bris, Xber, Xbris)
 
December
Ehe
 
marriage
Ehefrau
 
wife
Ehegattin
 
wife
Ehemann
 
husband
Ehescheidung
 
divorce
Eheschließung
 
marriage
Einwanderer
 
immigrant
Einwanderung
 
immigration
Eltern
 
parents
Enkel
 
grandson
Enkelin
 
granddaughter
Evangelisch
 
Protestant
Familienstand
 
family status
Feber
 
February
Februar
 
February
Firmungen 
 
confirmation
Frau
 
wife
Gatte
 
husband
Gattin
 
wife
Geboren 
 
born
Geborene
 
birth
Geburten
 
birth
Geburtsregister
 
birth
Geburtsschein
 
birth certificate
Geburtsurkunde
 
birth certificate
Genealogie
 
genealogy
Geschieden
 
divorced
Geschlecht
 
sex or generation
Gestorben
 
died
Getaufte
 
baptism/christening
Großmutter
 
grandmother
Großvater
 
grandfather
Hausfrau
 
wife
Heiraten
 
to marry
Heiratsurkunde 
 
marriage certificate
Hochzeit
 
marriage ceremony, wedding
Italien
 
Italy
Jahr
 
year
Jänner
 
January
Januar
 
January
Jude
 
Jewish 
Jüdisch
 
Jewish 
Juli
 
July
Juni
 
June
Katholisch
 
Catholic
Kind
 
child
Kinder
 
child
Kirchenbuch
 
church register
Kirchenregister
 
church register
Kirchenrodel
 
hurch/parish list
Kirchensprengel
 
church diocese
Kirchspiel
 
parish
Konfirmation
 
confirmation
Kopulation
 
marriage
Kroatien
 
Croatia
Kusine (female)
 
cousin
Kusinen
 
cousins
Ledig
 
single
Lutherisch
 
Protestant
Mädchenname
 
maiden name
Mai
 
May
Mann
 
husband
Männlich
 
male
März
 
March 
Militär
 
military
Monat
 
month
Morgen
 
morning
Mutter
 
mother
Nachkomme
 
descendant
Nachkommenschaft
 
descendants
Nacht
 
night
November (9ber, 9bris)
 
November
Oheim
 
uncle
Oktober (8ber, 8bris)
 
October
Onkel
 
uncle
Ort und Staat
 
place and state
Österreich
 
Austria
Pfarrbuch 
 
church register
Pfarrei
 
parish
Polen
 
Poland
Proklamationen
 
marriage banns
Protestant
 
Protestant
Protestantisch
 
Protestant
Register
 
index
Rumanien
 
Romania
Russland
 
Russia
Saftladen
 
A derogatory term used to describe a shop or any service business that offers junk.
Scheidung
 
divorce
Schwager
 
brother-in-law
Schwäger
 
brothers-in-law
Schweiz
 
Switzerland
Schwester
 
sister
Schwiegertochter
 
daughter-in-law
Schwiegertöchter
 
daughters-in-law
September (7ber, 7bris)
 
September
Serbien
 
Serbia
Sohn
 
son
Söhne
 
sons
Soldaten
 
soldiers
Spainien
 
Spain
Staatsangehörigkeit
 
citizenship, nationality
Stammbaum
 
family tree
Standesamt
 
civil registry
Starb
 
died
Stellung
 
position
Sterbefälle 
 
death
Sterben
 
to die
Sterbeurkunde
 
death certificate
Steuerexecutor
 
tax collector
Tag
 
day
Tante
 
aunt
Taufe
 
baptism/christening
Taufen
 
to baptize
Tochter
 
daughter
Töchter
 
daughters
Tod
 
death
Tot
 
ddead
Totenschein
 
death certificate
Trauungen
 
marriage ceremonies, weddings
Ungarn
 
Hungary
Urgroßmutter
 
great-grandmother 
Urgroßvater
 
great-grandfather 
Vater
 
father
Väter
 
fathers
Verheiratet
 
married
Verkündigungen
 
marriage banns
Verstorben
 
dead
Verwitwet
 
widowed
Verzeichnis
 
index
Vetter (male)
 
cousin
Volkszählung,
 
census
Volkszählungsliste 
 
sensus list
Vollwaise
 
orphan
Vorfahre
 
ancestor
Vorfahrin  (female)
 
ancestor
Vormittags
 
morning
Vornamen
 
given name
Waise
 
orphan
Weib
 
wife
Weiblich
 
female
Woche
 
week
Ziel der undwanderung
 
destination
Zuname
 
surname
 
Updated: 12 Jan 2016
 
Have some other German words to add? Please send them to Ken Weaver