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Guten Tag! Today it’s time for another untranslatable word, in which I share some of the quirkiest, coolest words the German language has to offer – and try (usually fail) to find an identical English version! This time it’s a funny one: Today’s word is der Pantoffelheld.
Pantoffelheld is used to describe a man whose girlfriend/wife controls him; someone who has to ask for permission before doing anything or going anywhere, and who has no say in anything – especially at home.
This word is a combination of der Pantoffel (slipper – perhaps more commonly known as der Hausschuh) and der Held (hero). A slipper hero? What’s that got to do with being controlled by your girlfriend?
First off, you’d use it in a teasing, derogatory way, and never in a formal situation. This sentence from German newspaper Die Zeit perfectly sums up both its meaning, and how to use it:
Einst war der Major ein Held, jetzt ist er nur noch Pantoffelheld.
‘Once the Major was a hero, but now he’s just a ‘slipper hero’’.
Saying a man is ‘henpecked’ or ‘under the thumb’ has the same meaning, though neither have the sarcastic nastiness of calling someone a ‘slipper hero’, in my opinion.
What do you think of the word Pantoffelheld? Can you think of a better translation for it? Let me know in the comments!