It’s Vatertag (Father’s Day) in Germany, and a perfect time to learn about German beer etiquette. So we’re showing you 7 ways to toast and say cheers in German!
How do you say cheers in German?
Wondering how to say cheers in German? In this article, we’ll tell you all about the most popular ways to say cheers in the German language while sounding like a true native speaker. Along the way, we’ll also teach you about German beer culture, drinking etiquette, and handy beer-related phrases. So, are you ready? Let’s get to it!
Don’t forget that you can learn all the German you need by downloading the Fluent Forever app and working 1-on-1 with a native speaker in our Live Coaching program. Lastly, kickstart your German language learning with our How to Learn German guide.
Hint: Are you in a rush to learn how to say cheers in German? Skip straight to what you’re looking for here!
Germans & beer
Ah, Germans and their beer! Germany is famously a beer-drinking country – no other European country produces more of the popular beverage. Additionally, brewing this malty liquid is a cultural tradition that spans over a thousand years, with the first brew of beer originating from a monastery in Munich in the 11th century.
During Vatertag, which is considered a national holiday, fathers around the country celebrate by skipping work and spending their day in their favorite corner pub, beer garden, or park (yes, drinking beer in public is tolerated in Germany). Likewise, men who aren’t necessarily dads join the revelry, because why not?
And because this is Germany we’re talking about here, there are lots of beer options to choose from. Here are some of Germany’s most popular beer styles:
- Berliner Weisse
Hint: You can learn more about each of these beers by checking out this practical beer-encyclopedia.
German drinking etiquette
Before showing you how to say cheers in the German language, there is some etiquette you should be aware of. Knowing your beer facts and styles isn’t enough to toast, drink, and enjoy like a true German. Again, because this is Germany, there are rules you need to follow.
Toast before you drink
When you get your tall, half-liter jug of beer in front of you, it might be tempting to immediately slurp down its liquid goodness. Don’t. No matter how thirsty you are, it’s tradition to toast before you take a sip, and considered rude otherwise.
Unlike in other countries, when Germans toast they clink with the bottom of their glasses, not the top or middle. Most German beer glasses are thicker at the base than at the rim. So we suggest you take note, or risk sprinkling your delicious Pilsner with shards of glass.
No one wants seven years of bad luck. Well, that’s what you get if you don’t maintain eye contact while toasting in Germany. Additionally, it’s a bit odd if you choose to close your eyes or stare at the floor while you toast.
It’s a no on H2O
Here’s to designated drivers! If it’s your turn behind the wheel, though, and you order a glass of water, don’t you dare raise your glass. As in many other countries, toasting with water is bad luck. Avoid bringing the wrath of unfounded superstition upon your table and simply say no to H2O.
Choose your poison
Toasting isn’t limited to beer. Germans will usually prefer beer, but spirits, wine, and other liquors are acceptable when making a toast. Therefore, raise your glass with confidence (except if it’s water)!
Take a few sips before putting your glass down
You’ve raised your glass, maintained eye contact, and made sure you’re not holding up water as your beverage. Can you put your glass down? Of course not. It’s tradition to take a few sips before you bring your mug down, failing to do so will bring upon you the wrath of the hop and barley gods.
Alright! You’re now armed with a knowledge of beer styles and etiquette and ready for your first German drinking toast! So, how do you say cheers in German? Let’s find out.
7 ways to toast and say cheers in German like a native
Easily the most common way of saying cheers in German, prost is an expression that means “to life” or “to health.” (It also rhymes with toast!) Additionally, you can say ain prost, meaning “a toast,” to let everyone know you’re in the mood to raise your glass.
Zum Wohl [ˈtsʊm ˈvoːl]
One of the most popular ways of toasting in Germany, zum Wohl can be interpreted as “to your health.” Traditionally, it’s been used throughout Germany, so say it confidently and score some native-speaker points.
This literally means “health,” so it’s similar to the expressions above. Consequently, you also say gesundheit when someone sneezes. Bless you!
And here’s the Swiss German version of prost. So make sure to keep it in mind if you’re planning a skiing trip to the Alps and need to raise your glass when your hand’s not busy maneuvering down a steep slope.
Wo früher meine Leber war, ist heute eine Minibar [ˈvoː ˈfryːɐ ˈmaɪ̯nə ˈleːbɐ ˈvaːɐ̯ ˈɪst ˈhɔɪ̯tə ˈaɪ̯nə ˈmɪniːbaːɐ̯]
This expression literally means “Where my liver once was, there is now a minibar.” Needless to say, you shouldn’t drink to the point that your liver’s a minibar.
Ich möchte einen Toast auf (NAME) ausbringen [ˈɪç ˈmœçtə ˈaɪ̯nən ˈtoːst ˈaʊ̯f aʊsb̥ʁɪŋŋ̍]
If you want to toast to whoever’s buying the round, insert their name between auf and ausbringen. And remember to maintain eye contact.
Lasst euch nicht lumpen, hoch mit dem Humpen [ˈlast ˈɔɪ̯ç ˈnɪçt ˈlʊmpn̩ ˈhoːx ˈmɪt ˈdeːm ˈhʊmpn̩]
Lastly, who doesn’t like a good rhyme? This way to say cheers in German means “Don’t be a slouch, raise your glass!” If you’re in noisy company, this rhyming toast never fails to amuse and put a smile on everyone’s face. Even if the people around you don’t get the words, they’ll appreciate the melody.
BONUS: Phrases you’ll need to know for Oktoberfest
You can’t talk about beer, toasting, and Germany without mentioning Oktoberfest. So, what is Oktoberfest? Only the biggest beer festival in Germany, a 16-to-18-day annual festival running from mid-September to October in Munich, in the German region of Bavaria.
It’s been celebrated since 1810 and is considered an important part of the region’s culture. Additionally, much like St Patrick’s Day, the event has many national and international adaptations. So, if you’re planning to attend, it would be good for you to know some Oktoberfest-related phrases.
Eins, zwei, drei [ˈaɪ̯ns ˈtsvaɪ̯ ˈdraɪ̯]
“One, two, three!” is what eins, zwei, drei means! You’ll probably hear this phrase seconds before everyone downs their beer.
Oans, zwoa, drei, g’suffa!
This one means “One, two, three, drink!” However, while still German, the phrase comes from the Bavarian German dialect, which sounds different from Standard German.
Easily the most famous Oktoberfest phrase, this is also in the German Bavarian dialect and means “It is tapped!” Since 1950, the mayor of Munich traditionally taps and opens the first barrel of beer in Oktoberfest with a wooden hammer to officially inaugurate the event.
If you want to score points with the locals at Oktoberfest, make sure to call the festivity Wies’n. It’s how locals refer to the place where the event is held – Theresienwiese, in the center of Munich. Impress your local friends by asking them Wie komme ich zur Wies’n?, or “How do I get to the Wies’n?”
Zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi!
Lastly, zicke zacke, zicke zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi means “a toast, a toast, and a cozy place.” It’s usually followed by prost and a swig of beer (either a sip or the entire thing).
That’s it! You’re ready to toast and enjoy a big glass of whatever style of German beer you feel like!