German word of the day: Der Schnorrer

Sarah Magill
Sarah Magill - [email protected]
German word of the day: Der Schnorrer
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Do you have that acquaintance who's always asking if you can spare a little cash? This might be a good name for him or her.


Do you know someone who is frequently “borrowing” small sums of money, or small items, without ever returning the favour?

Then you may have yourself a Schnorrer. One would translate this unflattering colloquial term as “a sponger” or “a scrounger” in English. 

Although it’s probably inadvisable to directly call someone a Schnorrer, the verb form - schnorren - is often used light heartedly, for example when asking someone politely for something small. 

Where does it come from?

The word Schnorrer is one of the many German words with Yiddish heritage. Yiddish, the historical language of the Ashkenazi Jews, emerged in southwestern Germany between the 9th and 12th centuries when Hebrew words became mixed with German.

READ ALSO: How Yiddish survives in Europe - through German

The word Schnorrer itself seems to have come into existence in the early 18th century, as a word used to refer to beggar-musicians would often travel around with a whistle, or Schnurrpfeife, to aid them in their quest for obtaining money. 

Examples of use

Pass auf - Er ist ein Schnorrer.

Be careful - he is a sponger.

Kann ich mir eine Zigarette von dir schnorren?

Can I pinch a cigarette from you? 

Er hat Geld von allen seinen Freunden geschnorrt.

He has scrounged money from all of his friends.



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