Untranslatable German Words: Bauchpinseln Posted by Constanze on Feb 18, 2017 in Language
Guten Tag! As it was Valentinstag (Valentines Day) on 14th Februar, I thought I’d bring you a (sort of!) topical “untranslatable word”. This one will hopefully make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Today’s untranslatable word is bauchpinseln.
What does bauchpinseln mean?
It means to flatter or compliment someone, just like you would do on a Valentines date – or to get yourself a Valentines date in the first place, maybe! However, it also means to flatter someone in the sense of stroking their ego/using flattery to get what you want.
What does bauchpinseln literally translate to?
The word is broken down into two, separate words:
der Bauch – stomach
pinseln – to brush/paint (der Pinsel = a brush)
So the word literally means ‘to brush the stomach’! I don’t think any words are necessary for you to fully understand the meaning behind this untranslatable German word. All I need to do is show you this photo:
Now you’ve imagined a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling and you understand what bauchpinseln is!
The ‘normal’ word for flattery in German, by the way, is die Schmeichelei. When you get a compliment, you’ll feel geschemeichelt. Even that word sounds cute!
How would you use bauchpinseln in a sentence?
As it is a verb, there are conjugations for it. Here is the present tense conjugation, for instance:
What is the nearest English equivalent to bauchpinseln?
Do we have our ‘tummies brushed’ in English? No, but we do get ‘buttered up’ (if talking about using flattery to get something). We also get ‘butterflies in our stomach’ in English, which is kind of similar (a nice feeling in the tummy!). In German, by the way, this phrase is the same:
Schmetterlinge im Bauch haben – to have butterflies in the stomach.
“Ich habe Schmetterlinge im Bauch” – “I have butterflies in my stomach”.
I hope you enjoyed this word! If you have any closer English equivalents (or an equivalent in any other language), leave a comment and let us know about it.
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