An enjoyable list from Arika Okrent; alongside the usual suspects like Ostalgie (nostalgia for the old way of life in East Germany) and Weltschmerz (you probably know what Weltschmerz is), there are such piquant entries as Kevinismus (“a strange propensity to give their kids wholly un-German, American-sounding names like Justin, Mandy, Dennis, Cindy, and Kevin”) and Ichschmerz (“like Weltschmerz, but it is dissatisfaction with the self rather than the world”). A few others:
Kreislaufzusammenbruch, or “circulatory collapse,” sounds deathly serious, but it’s used quite commonly in Germany to mean something like “feeling woozy” or “I don’t think I can come into work today.”
Hörsturz refers to a sudden loss of hearing, which in Germany is apparently frequently caused by stress. Strangely, while every German knows at least 5 people who have had a bout of Hörsturz, it is practically unheard of anywhere else.
Putzen means “to clean” and Fimmel is a mania or obsession. Putzfimmel is an obsession with cleaning. It is not unheard of outside of Germany, but elsewhere it is less culturally embedded and less fun to say.
I expect my Germanophone readers to tell me some of them are invented, others exaggerated, and yet others misinterpreted, but it gave me a chuckle on a day spent reading about the Holocaust and worrying about the weather, so I thought I’d pass it on.
Speaking of the weather, I don’t know if there’s a word Schneeweh, but we’re promised at least a couple of feet of snow in the next two days and power lines may come down, so if I don’t post, you’ll know what’s happening. Please join me in hoping no trees fall near our house!