German word of the day: Der/Das Schlamassel

German word of the day: Der/Das Schlamassel
Photo: DPA
Have you ever been in a pickle? If so, you should definitely add this word to your vocab because “ich bin in einer Gurke” does not exist in German.

What does it mean?

“Der Schlamassel” refers to a complicated and muddled situation that was caused by unfortunate circumstances. 

In other words, “Schlamassel” is an unpleasant situation, a cluster-fuck, screw-up or simply a mess.

It's also used with the article “Das”, especially in Austria.

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Synonyms for “Schlamassel” are “die Ausweglosigkeit” (hopelessness), “die Zwickmühle” (dilemma, predicament), and “die Misslichkeit” (misfortune).

It also compares to the English phrases “to be in a pickle” or “stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

What are its origins?

Most likely, “Schlamassel” stems from the Yiddish word “Massel” (fortunate coincidence) and the New High German word “schlimm” (terrible).

Nowadays, this word is used colloquially and mainly in speech.


“Was für ein Schlamassel!”

“What a mess!”

“Wir haben ein ziemliches Schlamassel verursacht.”

“We have caused quite a mess/ We have made quite a mess of things.”


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