Word of the Week: Kaufrausch

When the holiday season begins, the stores are filled with shoppers trying to collect gifts for loved ones.

Parking is difficult, stores are overcrowded, lines are long and many items are sold out. This is all due to the so-called Kaufrausch.

The German word Kaufrausch means “shopping spree”. It comes from the words kaufen (“to buy”) and Rausch (“rush”).

The word can be used in many different contexts. If, for example, someone is seeking retail therapy, that person may be on a spontaneous Kaufrausch by him-or herself on a quiet day at the mall.

In another case, someone may be fighting mobs of shoppers who are all on a Kaufrausch at the same time – like during the holiday season. During the week of Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales also instigate a Kaufrausch in shopping centers across the US. Some of you may even be participating in one this week!

© dpa / picture-alliance

A person is most likely to go on a Kaufrausch when there are good sales, but it can happen at any time. So if you’re getting ready for a Kaufrausch today, just be mindful that you may not be the only one!

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

 

Word of the Week: Mutterseelenallein

Do you feel lonely? On a scale of 1 to 10, how lonely do you feel? If it’s a 10, Germans have a special word for this type of extreme loneliness: mutterseelenallein.

Directly translated, the term means “mother’s soul alone”, indicating a severe level of loneliness. If you’ve ever reached that level, you might have felt that you were so alone that even your mother’s soul was not there for you.

But even though it may sound like it’s related to your mother’s company (or lack thereof), it actually has little to do with her.

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Word of the Week: Pantoffelheld

If you’ve ever encountered a man who fearfully submits to his wife’s every will, you’ve probably met a Pantoffelheld.

Comprised of two nouns, this German word directly translates to “slipper hero.” But a Pantoffelheld is not heroic in any traditional sense: the closest English rendition is a “henpecked” or “whipped” husband, thereby defining a man who is plagued by the commands of an overbearing wife.

A Pantoffelheld may act tough in front of his friends, but flees any situation at the first sign of danger and is unable to stand up for himself. At home, the henpecked husband takes orders from his wife – the person wearing the Pantoffeln (slippers). In fear of being crushed under her slippers, the henpecked husband becomes submissive: he has little to say in the household and tries only to please his lady.

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Word of the Week: Hexenschuss

Have you ever had a sharp pain in your back – one that leaves you cringing in pain or crouching in agony?

Germans would call that a Hexenschuss – a shot by a witch! Literally translated, Hexe means “witch” and Schuss means “shot” (as in, a gunshot). It might sound strange – especially since witches carry broomsticks and not guns. But either way, any sort of bewitchment on your back is bound to be unpleasant!

A Hexenschuss refers to the sort of lower back pain that leaves you crippled for at least a few seconds – but perhaps even a few days or weeks. Maybe you pulled a muscle or injured yourself. Most likely you’ll reach for the Ibuprofen and hope that the pain subsides. But back in the Middle Ages, Germans had more supernatural beliefs attributed to this sort of pain.

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Word of the Week: Freundschaftsdienst

Sometimes you do things for other people that you don’t like. Why do you do it? Because of your Freundschaftsdienst!

The German word Freundschaftsdienst means “friendship duty”. It is a word that describes the obligations that come with a true friendship.

Let’s look at an example:

You’re allergic to cats, but your friend is traveling for the holidays and desperately needs a cat sitter. You begrudgingly agree to take in the cat, and spend the next two weeks sneezing and taking anti-histamine pills.

You endure all of this suffering because of your Freundschaftsdienst. Being a friend means doing favors for the other person, even when it inconveniences you.

Here’s another example:

You have a 6 am flight tomorrow morning and you have not begun packing. Your friend calls you crying because she just broke up with her boyfriend. You know you have a lot to do, but you choose to spend the night consoling her. The next morning, you’re rushing to the airport with little to no sleep. Enduring this was your Freundschaftsdienst.

Naturally, you expect your friends to do the same for you. If this isn’t the case, you may want to reconsider who you provide your Freundschaftsdienst to. Be selective, and make sure the Freundschaftsdienst is a two-way street.

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy

Word of the Week: Wissensdurst

Have you ever had a burning desire to learn something new? Do you have an archive of never-ending questions? Then you’ve most likely experienced Wissensdurst. In German, the word Wissen means knowledge nand Durst means thirst.

The only way this need can be satisfied is by obtaining the knowledge that you so profoundly crave. Occasionally the word Wissenshunger is used to describe ones hunger for knowledge. Although the two words are often used interchangeably, Wissensdurst describes a more urgent need, since humans can survive longer without food than without water.

Let’s take a look at an example where an unquenchable Wissensdurst recently played a major role in the education of a young British girl.
Heidi Hankins, a five-year-old girl from Hampshire, has an IQ of 159, which is approximately the same as that of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking (both had IQ scores of 160 and an unquenchable Wissensdurst). In comparison: the average person has an IQ score of about 100.

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Word of the Week: Geduldsfaden

Do you ever have those moments where your patience is so thin that you could snap? Germans would say that their Geduldsfaden is tearing. The word Geduldsfaden comes from Geduld (“patience”) and Faden (“thread”). Everyone has a Geduldsfaden, but some people have a thicker thread than others. A Geduldsfaden describes someone’s level of patience. If someone has a lot of patience, their “patience thread” is more durable than someone with very little patience. Of course, everyone has a limit.

When you are getting close to that limit, your Faden becomes tighter and thinner. When that limit is reached, your thread snaps in two pieces. Perhaps it’s screaming children, perhaps it’s a nagging friend or maybe it’s your incompetent employee who causes your Geduldsfaden to snap.

One of the first records of the term is found in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s autobiography Dichtung und Wahrheit (in English: From my Life: Poetry and Truth). The Brothers Grimm also used the term in their works.

In context:

Mir reißt der Geduldsfaden.

“My patience is wearing thin.”

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

Word of the Week: Biergartenwetter

© dpa / picture-alliance

It is no secret that Germans have some of the best beer. The country also has plenty of beer gardens. On a beautiful, sunny afternoon, these beer gardens are often filled with people. After all, most of these locales are outside (thus the term beer “garden”). Beer gardens are emptier when it rains, although some brave souls may choose to sit under the umbrellas. If you’re in the mood for a beer and good company, you may find yourself wishing for Biergartenwetter. Biergartenwetter is the German word for “beer garden weather”, and it describes the most favorable weather conditions to enjoy a day at the beer garden. Biergartenwetter is usually sunny and warm (but not too hot). Imagine a 70 degree day with plenty of sunshine and perhaps an occasionally passing cloud: the perfect beer garden weather!

But even if you have no plans to visit a beer garden, you can still use the term Biergartenwetter to describe the beautiful weather. In Germany, even weather channels will sometimes talk about Biergartenwetter in the forecast. When you step outside and feel the rays on your shoulders, you may be tempted to go meet your friends at a Biergarten – even if you’re just having a soda (or a snack). Better yet: pack a picnic basket with bread, radish, cheese and sausage to take with you and just buy an Apfelschorle at the Biergarten, as many Germans do. Because after all, who wouldn’t want to soak up the sun with friends at a Biergarten?

© colourbox

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

Word of the Week: Lebenskunst

Is your life as beautiful as a painting in an art gallery? Then you have mastered Lebenskunst!

Lebenskunst means “the art of living well”. It comes from the words leben (“to live”) and Kunst (“art). If your life is filled with fine wines, exotic travels, delicious food, strong friendships and many hobbies, you have probably mastered the art of living; in other words, your life itself is beautiful – like art.

You don’t have to be wealthy to be a Lebenskünstler (“artist of life”). You simply need to understand how to make the journey through life as joyful as possible. Every individual has a different idea of how to create an artful, magical life that gets you excited to wake up every morning. Some people may be struck by the magic of a beautiful sunrise, and need nothing more to experience joy. For others, drinking a $300 bottle of wine would
be an example of Lebenskunst.

But here’s one tip we can give you: if you see the beauty in every detail of life and use this beauty to create your own happiness, you’ll be on your way to becoming a Lebenskünstler. In very little time, examples of Lebenskunst will surround you.

Word of the Week: Brotzeit

Let’s say you’re hiking on a Saturday afternoon. It’s 3 p.m. and your stomach is growling. It’s too late for lunch and too early for dinner, but you and your buddies have packed sandwiches that you’re about to eat. In Bavaria – Germany’s southernmost state – you would refer to this meal as Brotzeit.

Brotzeit is a sort of “meal-between-meals”. Directly translated, it means “bread time” – and although bread is often eaten at Brotzeit, that’s not always the case. In the US, it might be referred to as a snack. But it’s more than just a bag of chips or a granola bar: Brotzeit usually refers to something more substantive, like several slices of bread, cheese and meat. For the most part, Brotzeit is a cold meal – one that does not require much preparation and one that can easily be packed for the road.

Most commonly, Brotzeit is consumed between lunch and dinner. Hikers, skiers, athletes, travelers and other adventurers might take an afternoon break from their activities for Brotzeit. If you have kids who get hungry frequently, you might sit them down for Brotzeit in the afternoon.

The word is also used in Bavarian beer gardens, where Brotzeit might refer to both the meal and accompanying drinks.

But if you’re taking a Brotzeit break, make sure your portions are reasonable: after all, you’ll still want to save room for dinner!

By Nicole Glass, German Embassy