Word of the Week: Eigensinn

Sep 28, 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.


Beethoven was "eigensinnig" and possessed of a strong sense of "Eigensinn." Enlarge image Beethoven was "eigensinnig" and possessed of a strong sense of "Eigensinn." (© picture-alliance/JOKER)

This year's theme at the annual Beethovenfest in Bonn is "Eigensinn" in honor of the legendary, hard-of-hearing German composer whose intense artistic vision produced some of the most famous pieces of music in the world.

As Deutsche Welle recently put it in an article about the 2012 Beethovenfest: "'Eigensinn,' or strong-mindedness, is the motto of this year's Beethovenfest in the composer's city of birth. It's a motto that speaks to Beethoven fans, but also invites visitors to think about the meaning of art."

If someone is called "eigensinnig" (synonyms include eigenwillig, widerspenstig, stur, störrisch, dickköpfig, starrsinnig or rechthaberisch), they are generally being described as headstrong, stubborn, strong-willed, hard-headed, bullish, wayward, obstinate or opinionated.

In this vein, for instance, someone who is "eigensinning" is stubborn, someone who is "eigensinniger" is more stubborn, and somone who is "am eigensinnigsten" is the most stubborn. (Stubborn also directly translates as "stur" in German.)

Similarly, someone might say in German "Er hat einen Dickschädel. Er ist eigensinnig." to mean "He's pig-headed."

Related Link:

Beethovenfest and the Strong-Minded Genius - Deutsche Welle

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