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Word of the Week

Word of the Week: Muffensausen

Do you ever experience performance anxiety before a math exam, a first date or acting in a play? Here's some advice inspired by a grimy German metaphor used to describe the phenomenon.

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You're standing at the edge of an airplane with a parachute strapped to your back. Your heart is pounding like crazy; your hands are sweating profusely; your knees are shaking. Whatever brought you to think skydiving could be fun, it all suddenly feels like execution day.

You are clearly having Muffensausen or Muffe. Those German words can be used to describe the jitters you get before a challenging situation.

A Muffe is technically a sleeve used in piping or, in this context, slang for "anus." Sausen means to whiz or swish by. Put both words together and you will find that Muffensausen is a visual representation of an admittedly embarrassing phenomenon that affects many people when they get nervous: stress-triggered diarrhea.

If you're parachuting from a plane, you only have one option left: squeeze your butt muscles and jump!

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