Do you know these 12 PA Dutch kitchen terms?

Mark Curtis has come up with a little language quiz for us, testing knowledge of some Pennsylvania Dutch kitchen terms. Each of the words below has something to do with the kitchen, food, or cooking.

Pennsylvania Dutch KitchenThis is the first half of a set of 25 words. I know we’ve got some PA Dutch speakers here. I am not one of them, but took a crack at some of these anyway. I can proudly say I got a grand total of TWO of this batch correct (#1 and #4). Top that, folks.

Even though Pennsylvania Dutch is generally not used as a written language, there are different ways to write it if you want to. Mark says these words are spelled phonetically. Any guesses?

Pennsylvania Dutch Kitchen Terms Quiz

  1. bakka offa
  2. gavel
  3. messer
  4. leffel
  5. schaefli
  6. dellah
  7. schissli
  8. droke
  9. groanah
  10. schepper
  11. kich disch
  12. keel shonk

If you’d like to try a food quiz in English, Mark has also given us the mystery supper quiz.

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    1. Alex Knisely

      Nine out of twelve?

      1.bakka offa, Backofen, oven
      2.gavel, Gabel, fork
      3.messer, Messer, knife
      4.leffel, Loeffel, spoon
      6.dellah, Teller, plate
      7.schissli, Schuessel, bowl
      8.droke, Trog, trough
      11.kich disch, Kuechtisch, kitchen table
      12.keel shonk, Kuehlschrank, refrigerator

      1. Mark - Holmes Co.

        Okay… I’m going to give this a try.

        1. bake-oven
        2. fork
        3. knife
        4. spoon
        5. spatula
        6. plate
        7. bowl
        8. sink
        9. tap or faucet
        10. sauce-pan (or what you’d heat up water in) can be a dipper also
        11. kitchen table
        12. in low homes can be a dumb-waiter to take food to the basement to keep it cool, but guessing it’s being used as fridge here.

        Anyone want to try a few more? 🙂
        1. tee kessel
        2. drael-holsz
        3. grundberre-schtomper
        4. brot-messer
        5. ebbel schaeler
        6. fritch
        7. freezah
        8. schissle
        9. coppli
        10. tee loeffle
        11. soup loeffle
        12. schael messer

        1. Vernon G.

          Kitchen Terms Quiz

          I was familiar with all of the first set, but a few of these will take me some time to guess.

          Anyone want to try a few more? 🙂
          1. tee kessel – tea kettle
          2. drael-holsz – wooden rolling pin
          3. grundberre-schtomper – potato masher
          4. brot-messer – bread knife
          5. ebbel schaeler – apple pealer
          6. fritch – fresh or refrigerator
          7. freezah – freezer
          8. schissle – small bowl
          9. coppli – small cup
          10. tee loeffle – teaspoon
          11. soup loeffle – dipper
          12. schael messer – pealing knife

          1. Mark - Holmes Co.

            You got them, Vernon. I threw “fritch” in there for “fridge” because that’s how we pronounce it in “PA Dutch.” We use “coppli” for a measuring cup or coffee cup.

    2. Schorsch Stier

      1. Backofen
      5. ?Schaufel/Schöpfer
      9.? sounds like Kran (crane)
      10. Schöpfer
      I am from South Germany- and it sound very similar to our dialect
      So sorry, that the video yesterday (with the interview) is “privat”- so we could not see ist here in germany…

    3. Mark - Holmes Co.

      Yes, I know those. 🙂 Am I eligible to respond? 🙂

      1. You certainly are, but thanks for asking. Maybe…drag your feet on responding for a few hours until others have a look. But please do.

    4. Osiah Horst

      PA Dutch

      Leffel = table spoon (leffli is a teaspoon or spoon)
      Schaefli = literally a small shovel, or a scoop, spatula?
      schissli = a small bowl
      schepper = a scoop, ladle, serving spoon
      keel shonk = ice box

      1. Bill Rushby

        Hello, Osiah!

        This should be your cup of tea.

    5. Mary Miller

      I know them all, except #8 and #12 are not terms the IN Amish would use. They likely mean sink and refrigerator.

      1. Thanks Mary, I was wondering how much variation we’d see on these based on usage in different communities. According to my “cheat sheet”, you got those two correct.

    6. Margaret

      I know them all, too. So, I’ll just enjoy seeing everyone answer! I love these “quizzes,” Erik!

    7. Trish in Indiana


      bakka offa: What Mom says when you’re reaching around her to the mixing bowl of cookie dough
      gavel: Heavy object banged on the counter to get the attention of children fighting over the stirring spoon
      messer: That member of the family whose place at (and under) the table is always full of crumbs after a meal
      leffel: What a cake never is, even when you try to rotate it halfway through baking
      schaefli: What you say when trying to chase flying insects away from the fruit bowl
      dellah: The place in the grocery store where you buy your sliced bologna
      schissli: The foam that bubbles invitingly at the top of a glass of pop for several seconds after pouring
      droke: passive past participle of “drag” (as in dragging a spatula across the bottom of the frying pan to get the last delicious bits into the gravy)
      groanah: Sound Dad makes after eating more than his fill of Mom’s beef and noodles
      schepper: Boy in charge of watching the sheep (This was a trick question; this term is not used in the kitchen. When said boy enters the kitchen, he becomes “takenoffen yer muddenbootsen.”)
      kich disch: Pretty serving platter English family bought at an estate sale and never uses to serve food, just to look pretty
      keel shonk: The part of the body that expands the most after eating good Pennsylvania Dutch cooking

    8. Mark - Holmes Co.

      Very good, Trish! 🙂

      1. Trish in Indiana

        Thank-you, Mark! Comes from growing up on Pennsylvania Dutch cooking in a Catholic home.

        1. Bill Rushby


          You get a A+ for “most creative” translation!!

    9. Alex Knisely

      Not "trough", "sink" -- Spuelstein

      Interesting, that. Wonder if it’s the same word everywhere.

    10. Mark - Holmes Co.

      Sink Variations

      Around here, we call it the double sink we wash dishes in a “sink” in PA Dutch, ha ha, but the sink we wash hands in is the “draklee” (drake-lee) which I suppose we be “little trough”, but a dry-sink is a “wasser bank”. No idea why there are 3 different ways of saying “sink.”

    11. Alice Mary

      I’ll admit, I have NO idea what any of those words mean. I’d guess “meat pounder/tenderizer” for #2 (I still have my German Grandma’s pounder–a 5 inch tall, 3 1/2 inch wide cylindrical hunk of, I think, oak), but that’s IT. I did, however, greatly appreciate Trish’s take on it all! 🙂 That one’s a keeper, Trish!

      Alice Mary

    12. The Answers

      Here they are from Mark Curtis:

      1. bakka or bak offa – bake oven
      2. gavel or govvel – fork
      3. messer – knife
      4. leffel – spoon
      5. schaefli – a spatula, like a pancake turner
      6. dellah – a dinner plate
      7. schissli – bowl, like a soup bowl
      8. droke – the sink
      9. groanah – faucet
      10. schepper – ladle
      11. kich disch – kitchen table
      12. keel shonk – refrigerator

    13. Don Curtis

      Comment from my son, Mark

      Mark said that around Belle Center, the droke is a tank or trough as in the “gaul wassah droke.” But, he had some Amish friends visiting him from Lancaster Countym, PA and the womenfolk wanted to help out by washing the dishes in the droke. So, I guess a sink is a small tank, in a way.