German word of the day: Das Weichei

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Eoin McGinley - [email protected]
German word of the day: Das Weichei
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A 'weak egg' belongs among the most interesting of German insults.


What does it mean?

Weichei is a piece of German slang or Umgangssprache which simply means “wimp” or “weakling”, or literally a soft egg.

There are many synonyms of Weichei in the German language, including “Memme”, (meaning craven) “Angsthase” (literally meaning “afraid rabbit”, although often used like “scardy cat”), and “Feigling” (meaning coward).

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What is its origin?

Weichei is another kompositum (a combination of two words to form one word); it consists of the nouns “Weich” (which means soft) and “Ei” (meaning egg).

One could easily say this relates to the meaning, as the mental image of a soft egg is basically never related to strength and heroism. The term is said to have originated during the 80s, a time during which men in Germany became more conscious of their self-image.

The concept of a “soft” man was born as a result: a man who was very pliable, gentle and had a more alternative social viewpoint.

The term “Weichei” could be easily used to describe this concept of a man, similar to a “Warmduscher” (meaning a guy who takes warm showers, something which was considered unmasculine).

SEE ALSO: German word of the day: Der Warmduscher

A particularly soft guy could even be called an “Oberweichei” (literally meaning head wimp, but usually meant more as “a huge wimp”).

How is it used?

Since then, its background has become irrelevant to how Germans use the word, and it is used in a broader variety of situations, as well as against both women and men alike. It isn’t known to be a particularly common word, yet it is somewhat popular with younger children.

You might hear it being yelled through a Kiezspielplatz (community-area playground) by some kindergarten-aged boys who want to prove that they are the manliest three-to-five-year-olds around.

Uses of Weichei:

Ich gehöre zu den Weicheiern, die sich vor Gewalt fürchten.

I belong to the wimps that are afraid of violence.

Wer es nicht wagt, von der Klippe zu springen, ist ein Weichei!

Whoever does not dare jump from the cliff, is a wimp!

Maximilian fürchtet sich vor dem Ball, darum ist er ein Oberweichei.

Maximilian is frightened of the ball, that’s why he is a huge wimp.



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