Word of the Week: Lampenfieber

May 4, 2012

Every Friday, Germany.info and The Week in Germany highlight a different "Word of the Week" in the German language that may serve to surprise, delight or just plain perplex native English speakers.


Spotlight Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/Lehtikuva) If you've ever felt nervous about defending an academic thesis before a bunch of professors, pitching a startup idea to a room full of potential investors, tripping as you play your part in a wedding procession - or any situation in which the spotlight is turned on you - then you've probably experienced "Lampenfieber" (stage fright).

In English this expression would literally translate into "lamp fever," which of course makes no sense as a figure of speech. The more accurate and precise translation of this word would be "stage fright."

Given that, at the end of the day, the whole world really is a stage, this common affliction can strike at any time. So a spotlight does not really need to shine right on you on an otherwise empty, er, stage, for you to experience the racing pulse, sweaty brow, and general nauseous nervousness that makes you realize you're experiencing stage fright.

Job interviews, first dates, public speaking engagements, wedding speeches - all of these scenarios and many more could lead you to experience "Lampenfieber." Even the most seasoned actors or politicians sometimes forget their lines or miss their mark, so there is no need to feel like an "outsider" from the rest of humanity if you have experienced "Lampenfieber" before. Most of us might experience this feeling more than once during our lifetimes!

© Germany.info

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