How Germans say "garbage"

Strictly speaking, the English word “garbage” refers to spoiled food or other kitchen refuse, whereas “trash” refers to any worthless or discarded materials. “Rubbish” is a word mainly used in British English to refer to something without value. In common usage, the terms are often used interchangeably.

Similarly, the German words “Müll” (m.) and “Abfall” (m.) are often used interchangeably, but, strictly speaking “Abfall” (literally “fall-off”) implies that the items are not necessarily without value. In other words, they could be re-used or converted into something else.

A “trash can” or “rubbish bin” is usually “Mülleimer” (m.) or “Abfalleimer” or, for the big one outside, “Mülltonne” (f.). A “wastepaper basket” is “Papierkorb” (m.).

“Garbage collection” or “garbage disposal” is “Müllabfuhr” (f.) in German, a “garbage truck” is “Müllwagen” (m.), the “garbage dump” or “rubbish dump” is “Müllabladeplatz” (m.) or “Müllhalde” (f.). A “garbage man” is “Müllmann” (m.). A “rubbish sack” or “trash bag” is “Müllsack” (m.).

Among many others, the word “Müll” can also be used when what someone is saying is nonsense (“rubbish”), although “Quatsch” (m.) is a bit more common in this case.

Listen up, lurkers!

We filmed an entire beginner German course!

More cool stuff from Expath

The best ways to remember gender in German

How's your German? Take our free online test!

How to get a handle on childcare in Berlin

Join us for small online German classes for English speakers

How to go about finding a flat in Berlin and Germany

All the different ways to say you're exhausted in German

Want to work as a freelancer in Germany but need more info?

Want to live and work in Germany but not sure how to do it?

How to obtain an artist visa for Berlin

How do English speakers find jobs in Germany?

All of Expath's German "words of the day"

How to tell time in German