Kissing Cognates: Words in English and German with the Same Spelling

By J. Wes Ulm, MD, PhD

Medical researcher, physician, linguist, and author

Echoes of the Mystic Chords: A Novel, Book One of The Leibniz Demon Trilogy


English and German are not only closely related Germanic languages with similar core grammar, syntax, and vocabulary, but also orthographical patterns that, by and large, have led to close resemblances in the way they spell sounds. The list below is a partial accounting of the thousands of vocabulary items that are spelled not only similarly, but in the exact same fashion in English and German. While some are of Germanic origin, the vast majority of these words are imports from classical sources (Greco-Latin), either directly or through Romance languages like French. (Note that German did not import these from English; both English and German absorbed them independently from Latinate sources.) In a few cases the commonly spelled word is a verb, and since German verb infinitives end in “en,” I’ve simply indicated the shared word with the stem followed by (en) (e.g. the word “bind” in German is simply “binden”).


Abdomen, Abrogation, abrupt, absent, Absorption, absurd, Addendum, Addition, Administration, Admiral, Admission, Adoption, Adverb, Affirmation, affluent, Agenda, Agent, Aggregation, Aggression, Alarm, Album, Algebra, Alphabet, Alternative, Amateur, Amber, Ambition, Angina, Angst, Annihilation, Antonym, apparent (medical term), April, Argument, Arm, Aroma, Assimilation, Asteroid, Asthma, Astronaut, Atelier, Atom, Audio, Auditorium, August, Auto (sense of automobile), Avenue, Axiom, Balance, banal, Band, Bandit, Bank, Base (chemistry), Basis, bilingual, bind(en), bitter, blind, Block, blond, Boulevard, bring(en), brutal, Bus, Butter, Cello, Chance, Chaos, Charge, Courage, Delegation, Deliberation, Delirium, Demonstration, Depression, Deprivation, Destination, Diameter, digital, Diktat, Dilemma, Diligence, Dilution, Dimension, Diplomat, divergent, Domination, Donation, Drama, dual, Dung, Echo, Edition, Element, Eliminarion, Elite, eloquent, Emigration, eminent, Emotion, Emporium, Episode, Erosion, Eruption, Evaluation, evident, Exhibition, Exodus, exorbitant, Expansion, Expedition, Experiment, Expertise, Exploration, Explosion, Extension, Extermination, extra, extravagant, fall(en), Fang, Farce, fatal, Filet, Filter, final, Finale, find(en), Finesse, Fission, Flora, floral, Force, Fort, Fortune, Forum, Fossil, Foyer, Fragment, Front, frontal, frugal, Frustration, fulminant, fundamental, Fusion, Gala, Garage, Gas, General, Generation, Genre, Genus, global, Gluten, Gold, Graffiti, Graph, Gravitation, Hammer, Hamster, Hand, Harm, hinder(n), horizontal, Horn, Hotel, human, Humor, Hunger, Idiom, Idiot, ignorant, illegal, Imagination, Imitation, Immersion, Immigration, imminent, Impetus, Implosion, Impression, in, Index, Infiltration (Gmc.), Inflammation, Inhibition, initial, Innovation, Innuendo, insistent, insolent, Institution, Instrument, Integration, intelligent, Intention, Interpretation, Intrusion, Intuition, Inundation, Invasion, Inversion, Investigation, Invitation, Journal, Journalist, jovial, just, Lamentation, Land, Largesse, latent, Lava, legal, Liaison, liberal, Liberation, Limousine, linear, liquid, Liter, Lotion, Lotus, loyal, lunar, Magma, manifest, Manipulation, Manual, Marathon, Marinade, Marionette, Material, Maximum, Mayonnaise, Mast, Material, Mayonnaise, medium, Memorandum, Memorial, Menopause, Meteor, Meter, Metropolis, metropolitan, Migration, mild, Milieu, Millennium, Million, Mine (landmine), Minimum, Minister, Mirage, Mission, Moderation, Moderator, Modulation, Monitor, Monument, monumental, Moral, Moratorium, morbid, Motion, Motivation, Motor, Motto, Museum, Name, Nation, National, Nationalist, Navigation, Negation, Nest, neutral, Nonchalance, normal, Notion, November, nubile, Obligation, Obsession, Omnibus, Operation, Oppression, optimal, Option, opulent, oral, Orange, Ordination, Organ, Origin, Ornament, orthodox, Oval, Ovation, Parade, Paradox,  parallel, Paranoia, paranoid, Pardon, parental, Park, Passage, pass(en), Passion, Pasta, Paste, Patio, Patriot, Pause, Pedal, Pedant, Permission, persistent, Person, Perversion, Petition, Phase, Phrase, Piano, Pilot, Plan, Planet, plural, plus, Podium, Poem, Poesie, Poet, Population, Pore, Portfolio, Portion, Pose, Position, Possession, potent, Praxis, press(en), Prestige, Problem, Profession, Professor, Profit, Progress, Progression, prominent, prompt, Propaganda, Propagation, Proposition, Propulsion, Protein, Protest, Proverb, Psychopath, Quantum, Rage, Rate, Ration, rational, real, Rebellion, Reflex, Refuge, Regiment, Regression, regular, Rehabilitation, Relation, relevant, Religion, Renovation, Reputation, Repetition, Reservation, Reserve, Reservoir, Resolution, Respiration, Rest, Restaurant, Retaliation, Revolution, Revue, Ring, Ritual, robust, roll(en), Rotation, Route, Routine, royal, Rudiment, Sadist, Sand, Sandbank, Satire, Sediment, Segment, Semester, Seminar, Sensation, September, Service, Session, Simulation, sing(en), singular, sinister, sink(en), Siphon, Sofa, solar, solid, Solution, Souvenir, Spaghetti, spare(n), spring(en), Stagnation, stammer(n), Statue, Status, still, Stimulation, Stimulus, Student, Studio, Submission, Subordination, Subversion, Suite, super, superb, Suppression, Symbol, Symposium, Symptom, Synonym, System, Temperament, Tempo, Tension, terminal, Terminus, Terrain, Terror, Text, Theorem, Tiger, timid, Tornado, Torpedo, Torso, total, Tour, Toxin, Tradition, Transformation, transient, Transition, Transmission, transparent, Transport, Tribunal, Triumph, Trivia, trivial, Tumor, Tumult, Tunnel, Uniform, Union, universal, urban, urgent, Urn, valid, Variation, vast, vehement, Verb, Version, Veteran, Veto, Vibration, Video, Violation, violent, virulent, Virus, Visage, Vision, vital, Voyeur, wander(n), warm, warn(en), wild, Wind, wind(en), Wolf, Zone


For questions or follow-ups to this material, you can write to me at (remove the hyphens and append standard suffix) m-e-i-g-u-o-2-a (at) yahoo dot com (alternate address I check about once a week). Please feel free to quote from, print, and cite this essay as, “Kissing Cognates: Words in English and German with the Same Spelling,” by J. Wes Ulm, originally published on Harvard University personal website, URL:  , © 2016.


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