Fisimatenten | Word of the Week | DW | 03.04.2012
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Word of the Week


Are you up to no good?

"Don't get up to any Fisimatenten!" The German colloquial term Fisimatenten refers to making a fuss about nothing, getting up to nonsense or making excuses. The word actually stems from the 16th-century term "visepatentes," from the medieval Latin Visae Pantentes, meaning "duly assessed privilege issued in writing." Unsurprisingly, the term came to be used to mock overly bureaucratic, inane procedures. Two common and more humorous, albeit false, theories relating to the origin of the word say it is a false interpretation of the French "je visite ma tante" - "I am visiting my aunt" - used by soldiers during the Franco-Prussian War from 1870 to 1871 as a lame excuse when caught out by watchmen. Another alleges the word relates to the French "visitez ma tente" - "visit my tent" - used by officers during the same period when inviting young ladies for a late night rendezvous!

Author: Helen Whittle
Editor: Kate Bowen

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