Literally translating to “film tear”, this German word takes inspiration from before the age of digital cinema, when a roll of film ripping or tearing in some way would cause the movie to stop playing, leaving the screen temporarily black.
The word has remained in modern usage to describe a gap in memory or a ‘mental blank’, and relates nicely to another German word, ‘das Kopfkino’ (literally ‘head cinema’), used to describe the act of playing out scenarios and images in the mind.
READ ALSO: German word of the day – Das Kopfkino
So while the world of cinema has since advanced in terms of technology, humans can still experience a temporary ‘blackout’ or missing moments in their ‘head cinema’, most typically on weekends after one too many drinks, or perhaps more frequently for any of us with generally bad memories.
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Heute habe ich so einen Filmriss wegen gestern Abend. Ich habe viel zu viel getrunken.
I've got real gaps in my memory from last night. I had far too much to drink.
Ich war am Samstag Abend in dieser echt coolen Bar, aber jetzt habe ich einen Filmriss wegen der Name.
I went to this really cool bar on Saturday night, but now the name has completely escaped me.
Ich habe einen Filmriss und kann mich an nichts erinnern.
I've got a mental black out and I can’t remember a thing.