We’ve all heard the stereotype: Germans are obsessed with cleanliness. And there’s even a German word that describes this condition: Putzfimmel!
Putz comes from putzen, which means “to clean”. Fimmel is a craze or an obsession. So the word Putzfimmel describes an obsession with cleaning. Sounds pretty German, right?
Someone who has a Putzfimmel is likely to keep his or her house organized, clean and spotless at all times. Any trace of dirt is immediately removed. Dishes are never left in the sink, and clothes are folded right away. A Putzfimmel is a mania for cleanliness. There is no direct translation in English, but Americans might refer to someone with this condition as obsessive-compulsive.
And there’s another German word that’s closely related: Putzteufel, which means “cleaning devil” – someone who can’t stop cleaning.
But of all the conditions that are out there, Putzfimmel is probably not the worst: after all, who wouldn’t want to have a spotless home?
By Nicole Glass, German Embassy