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German on the Web
Learning Strategies

German Dept.
Max Kade House
German Club
PONS online dict.
L.E.O. online dict.
Wortschatz Deutsch



Online Wörterbücher und Übersetzung; Slang/Jugendsprache 
Übersetzung [=Translation] Wörterbücher [=Dictionaries]
Deutsch-Deutsch Wörterbücher Synonymwörterbücher [=Thesauruses]
Redewendungen [=Idioms] Slang/Jugendsprache

Übersetzung [=Translation]

Google translate is improving at an astonishing rate: what it can do is very impressive. It can be a valuable tool for comprehension, i.e. for quickly getting the main points of a web page in German (or another foreign language), especially if you're just starting out in German. If you're trying to say or write something in German, be very wary of the results you get from an online translator. Use your common sense and your knowledge of German to check and correct the results. In general, you will learn much more from trying to construct (and understand) sentences on your own, working with the German you have learned, than from using Google Translate, just as you will get more exercise from lifting weights yourself than from having an athlete do it for you. If you are a University of Michigan student, please do NOT use online translators for writing your German essays - see the specific guidelines preceding each essay assignment!

  • Google Translate Google's free online translation service: very convenient, constantly improving, and available in many languages. No other online translator can currently match this tool, so I've removed the other links that used to be in this section.
  • GTS Website Translator This looks like a great tool for going beyond what Google Translate can do in terms of translating a website: you can download and edit the results, crowdsource translations etc.

Wörterbücher [=Dictionaries]

  • PONS online dictionary You will find a link to this online dictionary above the link to LEO in the left hand navigation bar on the German 101-326 webpages. This online dictionary comes very close to providing the lexical and semantic information in a paper dictionary, as opposed to just returning a word list from which you need to draw your own conclusions. Though the LEO online dictionary may still include more translations of rare/obscure words, you're significantly less likely to choose a mistaken translation for an expression you're looking for if you use Pons than if you use LEO ==> EXTREMELY highly recommend!
  • LEO English/German Dictionary Especially good for technical vocabulary. LEO is fast and easy to use. Results are in the form of a list of words and you have to use your judgment to decide which word from the list is the best choice, but it's often possible to click for further info. If you scroll down the results list, you'll also see useful collocations (i.e. typical word combinations) for the word you're looking for. Pons is superior in terms of making it easy for you to find the right word or expression when you're looking for everyday language, but LEO is also an amazing resource. Note that by clicking on the sound/info [i] emblem to the right of a word, you usually have access to its pronunciation (Aussprache) and to its conjugation (i.e. all the forms of a verb) or declination (i.e. all the forms of a noun; in particular, its plural and Genitive forms). ==> VERY highly recommended! You will find a link to it below the link to Pons in the left hand navigation bar on the German 101-326 webpages.
  • Great "crowd-sourced" dictionary. Translations are ordered by frequency (only for the most "basic" meanings) and beyond that by the number of words in the expression, part of speech (noun/verb etc.) and alphabetically. Greatest feature is the audio, provided by users and much more authentic and lively than for any other online dictionary. Lots of great features like integration into Word, Chrome etc. (click on "Tips" below the search bar to see some things you can do, and on "FAQ" for answers to other questions). Easy access to lots of other info via the "i" next to the audio icon - in particular, go to Canoo and then click "Wortformen" to see verb conjugations and noun declinations. Note also the "More information" section at the bottom of each page, with access to relevant forum discussions, similar words, and your own recent searches (once you enable this feature). Finally, there's a powerful "wild card" search function, e.g. ??komm* to get a sense of how it works and what your options are ==> VERY highly recommended. You will find a link to it below the link to LEO in the left hand navigation bar on the German 101-326 webpages.
  • Detailed listings of the variety of possible meanings of each word, including typical word/phrase combinations and an indication of the relative frequency of the most common meanings. ==> Highly recommended.
  • Online version of the 2008 Oxford-Duden Pocket German Dictionary, with entries for each word grouped logically in meaningful groups. ==> Highly recommended.
  • Hueber Online-Wörterbuch Similar to the PONS online dictionary above, just slightly less reliable and comprehensive, and slightly less user-friendly ==> Highly recommended!
  • BEOLINGUS (TU Chemnitz) This dictionary does an excellent job of listing the collocations (i.e. typical word combinations) and different classes of meaning of each word, and also provides some convenient verb conjugations. ==> Highly recommended!
  • This online dictionary offers good translations (for multiple languages besides German-English), lists relevant collocations, and provides a sound icon allowing you to hear each word pronounced. The site also offers vocabulary trainers, quizzes, games and a language forum, and the opportunity to add or share content. ==> Recommended!
  • ProZ Technical Translation Database This site lets you search a variety of databases for translations of technical terms in a wide range of technical and professional disciplines.
  • QuickDic Online This online dictionary works quickly as its name indicates, and is somewhat customizable.  It's greatest strength relative to other online dictionaries lies in its emphasis on the variety of possible translations of a given term.  It is not good at helping you choose between the basic alternative meanings of a word (it just returns an alphabetical list), but it is excellent if you're searching for idiomatic usages of a word: e.g. searching for "cold" returned more than 200 matches (3/10) ranging from 4 terms for "cold" itself to expressions for "are cold" ("to be cold" is further down the alphabetical list), "cold comfort," "cold front," and "cold sweat," for example. 300,000 entries 12/10.
  • Student Online German English Spanish Dictionary Returns somewhat arbitrarily sorted word lists, but remains on this list because at the bottom of each list of results, you get a fun quotation (e.g.: "boy: a noise with dirt on it").
  • Online Dictionary German English. 210,000 entries 3/10; a fun feature is that you can choose to see all the entries listed alphabetically.
  • Logos Multilingual Dictionary The translation results are rather busy and hard to really make use of, but there are some neat features, such as links to Google image (or text) searches for certain words, or to wikipedia entries, or passages using the word in context.
  • This site provides an interesting online English-German translation tool that lists sample professionally translated sentences as a way to give you a feel for the different possible meanings of a word. Fewer entries than most online dictionaries, but an interesting resource for choosing the appropriate translation of more common words. The site also provides a German language paraphrasing tool.

Deutsch-Deutsch Wörterbücher

Synonymwörterbücher [=Thesauruses]

  • Wortschatz Deutsch Amazing site that will give you lists of synonyms and related words for any word you enter, as well as usage examples and information on usage frequency. The usage examples and frequency information are also available in several other languages: English, French, Dutch, Sorbian (not Serbian), Estonian and Icelandic, as of 8/2004

Redewendungen [=Idioms]


  • BBC: Cool German Very user-friendly. Organized by topic. For each topic, you see and hear a series of expressions, including brief explanatory notes on their meaning and use.
  • German Words to Avoid Comes with its own warning, so none added here.
  • Interactive slang site with definitions and examples provided by users (hence obviously frequently offensive)
  • Viennese for Americans - A Phrase Book A humorous page with a wide range of sample phrases in the Viennese dialect, ranging from "Wieso kinnt's ia Deppn net wia jeda nuamle mensch a emericen redn?" [="Why don't you [fools] just speak American like everybody else?"] to "Hoid da Goschn!" [="Shut the %#$#* up!"]. For each phrase, you are given the English equivalent [as opposed to a literal translation], the Viennese phrase [unfortunately, it's often hard to tell from the transliteration what "standard German" words the terms used correspond to--e.g. the transliteration used for "Grüß Gott" is "Griass God"], and a flippant transcription of how an American might attempt to pronounce the phrase.  Please be warned that this page includes some strong and possibly offensive language!
  • Lexikon der Jugendsprache Created by 8th grade students in a Gesamtschule in Duisburg in 1997.  Becoming somewhat dated, but a useful source of some common slang expressions.
  • Detlev Mahnert: Neue Trends in der Jugendsprache This page contains general information on "Jugendsprache," as well as a variety of concrete examples (especially of "Kanakisch," a recent genre of slang with Turkish-German origins), and, at the bottom of the page, an up-to-date list of some basic slang expressions.
  • PONS Wörterbuch der Jugendsprache A selection of 350 or so current slang expressions, updated annually, and compiled by PONS on the basis of a contest in schools.  Very professionally done and up-to-date, but omits most of the simpler words like "geil," "checken," "ätzend" etc. that you'll probably want to learn first, and that even older Germans would be likely to understand. Sometimes the entire dictionary is available online, sometimes you can only see excerpts or e-cards with selected expressions. Search for "PONS Wörterbuch der Jugendsprache" online, or order it from 
  • Warmduscher A few years ago, a craze for creative ways of calling someone a "wuss" evolved in Germany, taking creative advantage of the ease with which compound nouns are formed in German. A "Saunauntensitzer," for example, is a wuss because s/he sits on the lowest tier of seats in the sauna, where it is not as hot. This link takes you to a list of about 2000 creative examples. The "Best of" list may be a good place to start.

The following links are provided here because they include some interesting slang terms, but many of the entries are very obscene/offensive ==> please do not visit these links in class, unless your instructor has specifically asked you to! If you're an instructor and the presence of these links causes problems in your class, please email me and I'll remove them!


  • Wie sagt man? A compilation of responses from the AATG Listserv to questions about items difficult to find in ordinary dictionaries.  Contains lots of very practical and fun info, though it's not always absolutely reliable.


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