Meisterstück | Word of the Week | DW | 14.03.2014
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Word of the Week


Artists aren't the only ones who can create a masterpiece.

"This is my Meisterstück," the writer may say after typing the last sentence to a well-researched novel. Or a politician might say "That was my Meisterstück," after giving the speech of a lifetime. And, of course, an artist could say, "Here is my Meisterstück," after unveiling an ornate painting.

But who is the "meister," and why produce a "stück?" The term, "Meisterstück," reflects traditional craft and trade vocabulary in Germany. A "meister" is someone who has successfully passed special high-level certification in a particular profession. Those who pass the examination would be considered "masters" of their trade in English.

Part of the examination to become a "master" of the trade is to produce a specific product - a "Meisterstück," or masterpiece, to prove their skills. For a carpenter that product may be a table. For a pastry chef the result might be a complicated tiered-cake. Those who want the title "meister," in their profession need to produce an especially impressive "Meisterstück." The term is also used in a general manner to reflect the results of one's effort. But be careful. Those who proclaim, "That is my masterpiece," too often will soon lose credibility because a meister only produces one "Meisterstück."

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