German word of the day: Papperlapapp

Christina Lazell
Christina Lazell - [email protected] • 8 Jul, 2021 Updated Thu 8 Jul 2021 10:34 CEST
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Sometimes you might find yourself in conversation with someone who leaves you at a loss for words, but not in a good way. In moments like these, you might just have to exclaim that everything the other person has said is complete papperlapapp!

Not only is this word incredibly fun to say (and surely has the most number of P’s in any German word), but it’s also the perfect colloquial term to express disagreement with your conversation partner.

Papperlapapp is similar in meaning to the German word Quatsch but has a more old-timey feel, and roughly translates to ‘nonsense’ or ‘rubbish’. It’s most often used as an interjection within conversation to denounce whatever the other person has just said. 

READ ALSO: German word of the day: Quatsch

Of course, it’s not to be used just anywhere, as offence might be taken if you deem your boss’ instructions to be papperlapapp. But in casual conversation when your friend is making dubious, flimsy excuses for being late or not wanting to go out for that beer later, papperlapapp conveys your dismissal in a rather fun way. 

The German dictionary Duden records the first usage of the word as an interjection in 1880, but its exact origin is unknown. Some argue that papperlapapp has links to the German verb babbeln (‘to babble’), while others believe the word simply has no real meaning or background, echoing the fact that what the other person is saying is completely nonsensical! 

READ ALSO: ‘Germans don’t have a sense of humour? That’s rubbish!’ Q&A with comedian Eddie Izzard

There’s even a children’s board game titled Papperlapapp - let’s hope the game is better than it says on the tin, though! 

Examples

Ich wollte ja kommen, aber draußen ist zu kalt.

Ach papperlapapp! Es sind 20 Grad. 

“I wanted to come, but it’s too cold outside.”

“Oh rubbish! It’s 20 degrees.”

„Du solltest weniger Süßigkeiten essen. Der Zahnarzt wird nicht glücklich sein!“ „Papperlapapp, meine Zähne sind in Ordnung, alles gut.“

“You should eat fewer sweets. The dentist won’t be happy!”

“Nonsense, my teeth are fine, don’t worry.”

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Christina Lazell 2021/07/08 10:34

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