Ortsnamen - German Place Names

Deutsch - English

Au - meadow, low area
Bach - brook
Bad - bath, spa
Berg - mountain
Burg - fortress, castle
Fels - rock, cliff
Furt - ford
Hof - farm, courtyard
Tal - valley, dale
Wald - forest, woods

A lot of German place names end in these geographical features. City names like Berlin, Berchtesgaden, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dresden or München (which, for some reason, English-speakers call Munich…) are easily recognizable. Geographic features like das Matterhorn, der Rhein, die Elbe, der Harz, or die Zugspitze (= Germany’s tallest mountain), are well known. Other regional or state names may be just as familiar: Schleswig-Holstein, the Rheinland, Sachsen (Saxony), etc. Sometimes these geographic names also became surnames or part of a family’s last name.