German Of The Day: Sitzfleisch (vs. Aussitzen)

Take Angela Merkel. Please.

Merkel

To have Sitzfleisch (sitting meat) means, on the one hand, to be able to sit still for the long periods of time required to be truly productive; it means the stamina to work through a difficult situation and see a project through to the end. On the other hand, it can also refer to someone who doesn’t know when to leave. You know, like the guest who won’t go home or the chancellor who won’t go home, either?

Aussitzen (sitting something out), however, is to deal with a difficult situation or crisis by not doing anything about it. That is, to just wait it out until it finally goes away – or until the person waiting it out claims that it has gone away. You know, what Angela Merkel and other politicians like her regularly do?

“German condenses what would take about seven or eight words in English into one particular word. The humour comes from the density of the word and the fact that it expresses something in such condensed form that we can’t get anywhere near.”

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