Want to speak like a local? Here are 23 viennese slangs, terms and expressions bursting with local color.
Viennese slang is renowned for its many charming and clever phrases, but it can pose a challenge with its numerous distinctive words and expressions. Fortunately, the method of loci may help: By mentally placing each item you wish to remember in a familiar location, simply visualizing that place will aid in recall. A favorite of ancient orators and modern-day memory champions alike, this technique might just be the perfect way to learn Viennese – one district and expression at a time.
1. Innere Stadt – “Ohne Göd ka Musi“
Meaning “no cash, no music,” this equivalent to the English idiom “there is no free lunch” certainly applies to the posh first district: You can’t expect a thing without paying the price.
2. Leopoldstadt – “A Gaudi “
Not to be confused with the Catalonian architect, this loanword from Latin (gaudium) denotes fun and merriment – fitting for the rides in the Viennese Prater.
3. Landstraße – “hudln” – Viennese slangs
To rush or hurry. The 3rd district’s Wien Mitte station is a stopping point for most commuter trains, as well as connections to the airport – no wonder it’s so busy and full of Hudler!
4. Wieden – “owezahn“
The Resselpark right by the Karlskirche is popular among Viennese students, and the perfect place to engage insome owezahn – slacking off instead of working or studying.
5. Margareten – “hackeln“
Viennese slang for “working,” often in a physically strenuous job. Blue collar Margareten is where the first Gemeindebauten (municipal housing projects) were built, as well as the birthplace of iconic Social Democratic Chancellor Bruno Kreisky.
6. Mariahilf – “MaHü“
A term of endearment for Vienna’s favorite shopping street, Mariahilfer Straße. Few locals use its full name, but the abbreviation is so ubiquitous that everyone in Vienna should know it.
7. Neubau – “Gspusi“
With about half of the apartments in the 7th occupied by single tenants – the highest proportion in Vienna – Gspusis (casual a airs or flings) are about as common here as fairtrade coffee or avocado on toast.
8. Josefstadt – “hatschen“
Vienna’s smallest district also has the fewest registered cars; one can assume that locals of urban Josefstadt do a lot of hatschen – walking, often at a slow, trudging pace.
9. Alsergrund – “narrisch” a very Viennese slang
A local favorite, narrisch (foolish, crazy) is an adjective for all things less-than-reasonable. Europe’s first mental hospital, the Narrenturm (“tower of fools,” a highly inappropriate name nowadays), was opened here in 1784. Today, the building is home to the anatomical museum.
10. Favoriten – “Gschropp“
The city’s most populous district is also home to no less than 177 playgrounds – to the delight of parents and Gschroppn (kids, tykes, rugrats) alike.
11. Simmering – “mim oanasiebzga foan” – a dark Viennese slang
One of Vienna’s many euphemisms for death, “taking the 71 tram” references the line that services Zentralfriedhof (Vienna’s main cemetery) – which is allegedly half as big as Zürich but twice as fun, as an old saying goes.
12. Meidling – “Meidlinger L“
The only district with a linguistic idiosyncrasy named after it, the “Meidlinger L” is a sloppy enunciation where the tongue is not fully pressed against the back of the front teeth. Reminiscent of Russian inflection, it is associated with a working-class sociolect.
13. Hietzing – “aufgmascherlt“
Right by Schönbrunn Palace, Hietzing is among Vienna’s fancier areas, and you’ll likely find many aufgmascherlt residents here – derived from Masche (a bow or bowtie), it’s a somewhat sardonic expression for someone elegant and polished.
14. Penzing – “gschaftig“
Vienna’s Technical Museum in the 14th district is the perfect destination for anyone who’s gschaftig. This Viennese slang word describes industrious people who love to tinker around.
15. Rudolfsheim – Fünfhaus – “Beisl“
If you’re looking for fancy bars and brasseries, look elsewhere. But to discover authentic Beisln, look no further than the 15th, where you’ll find myriad casual, cozy small pubs or taverns that serve booze and traditional food.
16. Ottakring – “16er Blech” – Viennese Slang from the brewery
A playful term for a can of Ottakringer beer. The 16th district is home to Vienna’s only major brewery – the Ottakringer Brauerei – which sells its suds primarily in distinctive yellow cans. The “16” refers to the district, while Blech translates as “tin.”
17. Hernals – “konnst bodn geh’n“
Hernals boasts Vienna’s oldest indoor public pool – the Jörgerbad, a Jugendstil jewel first opened in 1914. Literally meaning “go swim” or “go wash yourself,” the expression is equivalent to the English “go fly a kite,” or “take a hike!”
18. Währing – “Grätzl“
Like all districts, Währing consists of numerous Grätzln (neighborhoods), but you’ll find particularly distinct ones here – like the Cottageviertel with its rows of century-old townhouses.
19. Döbling – “g’stopft“
Fancy Döbling has some of Vienna’s most opulent mansions scattered across its outskirts – prime environs for those who are g’stopft, which literally means “stu ed,” but is used figuratively for “wealthy” or “rich”. This Viennese slang is similar to the English term “loaded.”
20. Brigittenau – “Bim“
This term for Vienna’s beloved trams is an onomatopoeia deriving from the sound they make; the very first (horse-drawn) tram line in Vienna crossed Brigittenau from the Donaukanal to the Kolosseum, a now defunct entertainment venue.
21. Floridsdorf – “G’spritzter“
The vast expanses of the 21st are Vienna’s largest winemaking region, with much of its produce used for G’spritzter – a popular beverage of equal parts white wine and soda water.
22. Donaustadt – “a gmahte Wiesn“
Translated as “a mowed lawn,” this term signifies an easy task done without e ort – similar to the English term “a walk in the park.” As Donaustadt has the most public green space in Vienna, you might find quite a few here – even if the expression is figurative.