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LEARNING GERMAN

German word of the day: Der Warmduscher

Warmduscher is quite a facetious, insulting term used to decry someone as weak or cowardly.

German word of the day: Der Warmduscher
Photo: depositphotos

A similar English expression would be ‘wimp’ or ‘mollycoddle’.

The term literally means ‘hot showerer’, which implies the idea of someone unwilling to step out of their comfort zone, or do things which make them feel uncomfortable. It stems from a German myth that taking a cold shower is considered masculine.

The word was also the centre of a football controversy. During the 1998 Football World Cup, comedian Harald Schmidt called Jürgen Klinsmann a Warmduscher. The German Football Association subsequently sued Schmidt and won, but this did not prevent the word from becoming popular in Germany.

SEE ALSO: Nerdy flowers to alcoholic birds: The 12 most colourful German insults

Examples:

Der feige Junge ist ein echter Warmduscher.

The cowardly boy is a real wimp.

Bergsteigen im Himalaya ist nicht für Warmduscher.

Climbing in the Himalayas is not for wimps.

Do you have a favourite word you'd like to see us cover? If so, please email our editor Rachel Stern with your suggestion.

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GERMAN WORD OF THE DAY

German phrase of the day: Etwas aus dem Ärmel schütteln

Anyone who has ever had to come up with a great idea on the fly can probably relate to this German phrase.

German phrase of the day: Etwas aus dem Ärmel schütteln

Why do I need to know ‘etwas aus dem Ärmel schütteln’? 

Because this versatile phrase can come in handy in a range of situations, from having pulled off a great presentation at short notice to coming up with a spontaneous solution to a problem. 

What does it mean?

Etwas aus dem Ärmel schütteln is similar to the English phrase “to pull something out of a hat” or “to have something up your sleeve”. Literally, the German phrase means to shake something out of your sleeve, but in a figurative sense it describes coming up with a bright idea or pulling something off without planning or effort. 

Generally, shaking something out of your sleeve is what’s required when you’re faced with a tricky situation and you need to quickly think up a solution. It might be that you have to stand in for a colleague in an important meeting at short notice, or rustle up a meal from the scraps in your cupboard after forgetting that supermarkets are closed on Sunday. 

READ ALSO: German phrase of the day: Ich glaub’ mein Schwein pfeift

In a similar sleeve-related vein, the English phrase “off the cuff” shares the same sense of executing a difficult task spontaneously. 

So, why are sleeves so important for getting out of a sticky situation? Well, there are a few theories about that.

The first relates to a cheat in card games: if you’re dealt a bad hand, you can always improve your chances by pulling out a few better cards that may have found their way into your sleeve earlier on. 

Another theory dates back to the times when people would wear long robes or other garments with wide sleeves. This would allow people not only to warm their hands, but also to store small objects they may need up their sleeves, to be “shaken out” when the time was right. 

Use it like this: 

Was kann er jeztz aus dem Ärmel shütteln? 

What has he got up his sleeve now? 

Wenn Marina denkt, den Abschluss aus dem Ärmel schütteln zu können, dann hat sie sich aber gründlich vertan.

If Marina thinks she can just pull the degree out of her sleeve, then she is very much mistaken.

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