German Word of the Day: Der Faulpelz

Similar to the English 'lazy-bones', Faulpelz can be used to describe someone who is a bit of a coach potato, or simply plain lazy.

German Word of the Day: Der Faulpelz
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The term Faulpelz has been in use since Early Modern High German, and although it was initially used to refer to the mould that forms on rotten foods, since the 17th century it has also been used to describe someone as lazy. 

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Faulpelz is a compound noun, and the first word it consists of  s the word faul. The pronunciation of this German words strongly suggests that it is related to the English word 'foul' which means rotten, perhaps a relation to the word's earlier use to describe mouldy food.

Indeed, faul can be used to describe food as rotten, but its most common use in German is as the word meaning 'lazy'.

Faul actually has multiple meanings in German, for example here it is used idiomatically to describe something as 'fishy':

Das klingt alles ganz gut, aber irgendwas ist da faul.

That all sounds great, but I think there is something fishy going on.

However, when it comes to Faulpelz, the translation of faul as 'lazy' is the most helpful. 

And what about Pelz? Well, a Pelz is the same as a 'pelt' in English, an animal's fur which can be used to make clothing or rugs, in German Pelz is more often used to describe a dense and fluffy fur, rather than Fell which translates more like the English 'coat'. So a mink might have a Pelz rather than a dog with a Fell

So Faulpelz means 'lazy-fur'? Not quite… It could either refer to simply someone being a lazy 'fur' and not doing anything, or perhaps its roots are similar to that of the German term Bärenhäuter, now described by Duden as obsolete in this meaning, but it was once used to describe soldiers who preferred to lie on their bear skins rather than go into battle.

It seems that now Faulpelz is mainly used as a fairly colloquial way to describe someone as lazy, just like the English 'lazy-bones'. It could also be translated as 'slacker', so it's certainly not something you want to be called by any of your German friends or colleagues.

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

This article was produced independently with support from Lingoda.

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German word of the day: Isso

Perhaps you've seen this word on social media and you're not sure what it means. Let us explain...

German word of the day: Isso

Why do I need to know isso?

Because it’s a nice colloquial expression to use if you’re feeling a little lazy since it combines a few words. It was also one of Germany’s favourite youth words back in 2016, although it’s definitely not particularly cool anymore and is used by all ages

What does it mean?

Isso is derived from the statement: ist so (short for es ist so) meaning ‘it’s like this’ or ‘it is so’ in English. When used as a response to someone’s statement, it usually means you completely agree. A good translation is: ‘right on!’, yes, that’s exactly right!’ or ‘it’s true!’.

You can also use the expression yourself to emphasise your thought. In this case you’d add it on at the end of your sentence. You often find isso used on Twitter, when someone is quoting a Tweet.

It can also be used in a more downbeat form accompanied by the shrugging of your shoulders. In this case you’re saying isso, because it can’t be helped, it’s the way it is. 

Use it like this: 

– Wir müssen gegen steigende Mietpreise in Berlin demonstrieren.

– Isso! 

– We have to protest against rising rents in Berlin. 

– That’s exactly right!

Frauen sind die besten Autofahrer, isso!

Women are the best drivers, it’s true.