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.


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