Herumscharwenzeln | Word of the Week | DW | 07.03.2014
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Word of the Week


It's more annoying than pleasing, but would-be sweethearts and overzealous salespeople just won't give it a rest.

He's always there when you need him - whether you want him there, or not. Would you like a cup of coffee? Done. Need an ink pen? He's offering it to you before you've had the chance to ask. Should you sneeze, he's got the handkerchief ready. It's a classic case of "herumscharwenzeln," or hanging around someone, waiting to answer his or her beck and call. The words traces its meaning back to the German phrase for "wagging a tail," like dogs do when they're happy.

People encounter others who herumscharwenzeln around them every day - whether it's salespeople trying to peddle their wares or a doting admirer hoping to win over a new sweetheart. In most cases, however, those doing the herumscharwenzeln tend to make the targets of their attention feel annoyed or even harassed. As the old German saying goes, "If you want to be worth something, then make yourself scarce."

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