Erm, what's that thingamajig called in German?

Last week a students asked me what Germans say when they are stuck mid sentence. Do they use words like um, uh, er?

Yes, they do! They sound almost the same but are spelled differently.

So when a German says something and then is stuck – just like you are when you can’t remember that German word, or the German word order, or the gender, or, or, or ….., they say

ähm (in English ‘um/ erm’), or they say äh (in English uh/ er).

If you need proof, check this video (which, of course, is NOT, how people talk in interviews in Germany ☺)

So, what do Germans say when they are stuck on a word?

Is there an equivalent for a whatsit, thingy, thingamajig or a watchamacallit?

Of course there is. It’s a

Dingsbums, Dingens or Dingsda

The words Dingsbums or Dingens are used when people can’t remember a word, whereas a Dingsda is an object people can see but can’t remember what it’s called. ‘Ding’ is a thing and ‘da’ means there, so literally das Dingsda is that thing there – if only you could remember what it was called!

Sometimes people describe the thing by adding a description part to the word ‘Ding’:

In a song about the European football championship I heard the word Glitzerding? Can you guess what it is? Answer at the bottom.

So, from now on, if you are stuck when speaking German, feel free to use sentences like “Ich rede von dem … ähm … Dingsbums. Ich möchte … ähm … das Dingsda.”

It is perfectly acceptable …. except in exams ☺ Well, maybe you can use it once …










Answer: The Glitzerding is the trophy, the thing that glistens when the winning team holds it up in the air.






6 Responses

  1. Also useful in a similar vein is “so ‘n Wisch” or “so ‘n Zettel” , for any kind of form, ticket etc …and life in Germany involves forms. “Von der Wiege bis zur Bahre…Formulare, Formulare!” (from the cradle to the grave, forms).

    1. Wisch! Of course, I don’t know how I managed to forget that one! Thanks for the reminder. I will make a note somewhere, but in triple duplicate – true to German forms ☺

  2. “but in triple duplicate – true to German forms ☺”-Anschi

    “Einen Antrag auf Erteilung eines Antragsformulars,
    Zur Bestätigung der Nichtigkeit des Durchschriftexemplars,
    Dessen Gültigkeitsvermerk von der Bezugsbehörde stammt
    Zum Behuf der Vorlage beim zuständ‘gen Erteilungsamt.” R-Mey

      1. I was making the Frikadelle this morning for dinner tonight. .Despite living back in the UK for so many years now, we still have a very Germanic diet…condense milk in my coffee, maggi (along with HP) on everything. Any Hoe, I had Mey on, all his old hits, whilst working and it once again occurred to me what a valuable resource his songs, especially his more famous ones, are for any German student. Infact I think at some point 20+years ago he was given some award in recognition of his being an ambassador for the German language? I know personally I have learnt no end of good German from listening to his songs since ‘discovering’ (the HHerin I was staying at the time was fan) them before I even really spoke German! Infact one of my pleasures as my knowledge of German increased was finally being able to understand fully what he was singing about, to be able to ‘get the joke’.

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