Word of the Week: Spassvogel | Word of the Week | DW | 25.10.2016
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Word of the Week

Word of the Week: Spassvogel

Though it literally means a 'fun bird,' this quirky German word has nothing to do with feathered friends.

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Parrots are entertaining birds, especially when they repeat what you say. They, along with other birds, are fun for humans to observe. But these are not the type of birds a "Spassvogel" has in mind.

Although the word "Spassvogel" literally means "fun bird" in German, it has nothing to do with feathers, beaks or even birds. The word "Spass" stems from Latin, originally meaning, "passing the time." That's exactly what a human "Spassvogel" does. He busies himself with entertaining others, like a jester. This could be a typical "Spassvogel" move:

"Why is the Statue of Liberty standing in New York?" he'd ask.

The answer? "Because she can't sit."

The fatal blow to every "Spassvogel" is when his jokes fall flat. So beware - being called a "Spassvogel" is a lot like being told your jokes aren't that great. At that point, jokesters might want to reconsider their reputations, because while listening to a parrot is fun, dealing with a "Spassvogel" isn't - and being called one isn't exactly a compliment.

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