Spießrutenlauf | Word of the Week | DW | 05.11.2013
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Word of the Week


And you think you've had a rough day...

Workers meeting at the pub to wind down after a difficult day at the office might complain about being put through a Spießrutenlauf, or running the gauntlet. "My boss criticized me in front of everyone at the conference, my manager tore my report apart, and customers called in to complain all day long," one besieged employee might say.

Someone attacked from all sides, like this poor individual, may have experienced a figurative gauntlet, but if they had been put through a real one, it's unlikely they would have lived to tell the tale.

Historically, a Spießrutenlauf - literally, "switch run" - was a terrifying form of physical punishment for a soldier who was sentenced to death. The soldier was made to run between two rows of his colleagues, while they lashed him with switches, or whips, and jabbed him with spears until he died.

So the next time you complain about being put through the gauntlet at work, just be glad your co-workers are only armed with words.

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