Word of the Week: Weichei

Jun 8, 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.

Weichei

Ben Stiller, as male supermodel Derek Zoolander in "Zoolander" (2001), would have been considered a "Weichei" (wimp) by his macho, coal-mining Dad. Enlarge image Ben Stiller, as male supermodel Derek Zoolander in "Zoolander" (2001), would have been considered a "Weichei" (wimp) by his macho, coal-mining Dad, Larry Zoolander (Jon Voight). (© picture-alliance/KPA)

A "Weichei" (soft egg) has nothing to do with eating breakfast in Germany and everything to do with insulting a (usually) male individual by suggesting he really should "man up" about something or other, lest he run the risk of mockery for his wimpy ways.

This expression, like many jocular insults, is often used in jest of course. But it can be deployed to suggest someone is really being a "wimp" - either as a general character trait or within the context of a certain situation.

Yet another German compound noun, it is comprised of the words "weich" (soft) and "Ei" (egg), to literally mean "soft egg," but actually mean "wimp." It is thereby a synonym of sorts for "Feigling" (coward).

Another similar expression that boils down to mean just about the same thing is "Warmduscher", which literally means "hot showerer." This expression is used to connote someone who is a "wimp" because he (again, this usually applies exclusively to guys!) takes hot showers.

So if you are a guy and happen to be in Germany and hear someone call you a "Weichei" or a "Warmduscher", you may want to ask why you have been branded a "wimp" by somebody.

"Waschlappen" (wash cloth) and "Memme" - a reference (like Mamme, or mammory) to female breasts - are also similar to "Weichei" in that they may be used as to describe a "wet rag" or "womanly" type of "wimpy" or "sissy" guy.

A "Weichei", however has nothing to do with the soft-boiled eggs Germans enjoy during breakfast.

© Germany.info

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