The German Wackeldackel Posted by Constanze on Sep 23, 2020 in Culture, Language
Guten Tag! Today we’re going to look at a toy called the Wackeldackel that you may have seen – you may even have one yourself!
What is a Wackeldackel?!
The Wackeldackel is the nodding head dog you see in cars. Their heads are on a spring so that each time the car moves quickly or goes over a Bremsschwelle (speed bump), their heads bob up and down and side to side. In English these are often called ‘bobbleheads’. The original ‘Wackeldackel’ dates back to the 1970s, when it was created as an accessory for German cars. The Wackeldackel then made a comeback in the late 1990s, when it was featured in this German Werbung (advert) for Aral – a German Benzin (petrol/gas) and Tankstelle (petrol station) brand:
The breakdown of the word:
Wackel comes from the verb wackeln – to wiggle/waggle/shake. Dackel is the type of dog, otherwise known as the Dachshund. Worth noting: These kinds of dogs are also sometimes called Teckel, as this is what hunters call them.
Dachshunds or Dackel are regarded as a symbol of Germany. You can read more about them in Larissa’s post here.
The word Wackeldackel is also a colloquial term used to describe people who always agree, nod their heads, and generally do as they’re told without ever questioning anything. If used in this way, it’s usually a bit of an insult. Here is an example I found:
“Wir Frauen wollen keine Wackel-Dackel, die stets ja sagen.”
“We women don’t want ‘Wackel-Dackels’ who always say ‘yes’.”
Meanwhile, this article compares being a ‘Wackeldackel’ with the inability to ever say no:
“Leiden Sie auch am ‘Wackeldackel-Syndrom’? Ein ‘NEIN’ kann sehr entspannen!”
“Do you also suffer from ‘Wackeldackel syndrome’? A ‘NO’ can be a huge relief!”
Now you know two meanings for the Wackeldackel:
1. A nodding dog car accessory
2. A person who can’t say no/has no backbone
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