Neunmalklug | Word of the Week | DW | 10.07.2012
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Word of the Week


Genius - or just a smartaleck?

Immanuel Kant, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Albert Einstein… They could all be called genii, but neunmalklug? Neunmalklug literally means nine-times-clever, but is actually the German term for, well, a smartass.

For those who hold themselves in particularly high esteem, you know, the ones who really like the sound of their own voice and always presume to know better, there's the alternative words Klugscheisser ("smart aleck") and Besserwisser ("know-it-all"). But Albert Einstein himself probably summed it up best: "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction." Well said, Big Al.

Author: Helen Whittle
Editor: Kate Bowen

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