Word of the Week: bauchpinseln

Mar 1, 2013

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.


Paintbrushes Enlarge image (© picture-alliance/dpa)

If you engage in the act of "bauchpinseln," which literally translates as "belly brushing," you are usually not even remotely coming into any kind of physical contact with somebody.

The real meaning of the verb "bauchpinseln" is "to flatter." In this vein, "sich gebauchpinselt fühlen" means "to feel flattered." By stroking someone's ego, or ingratiating yourself with them, you may achieve harmonious relations in a social setting. This need not, of course, necessarily involve fawning over them or stroking their stomach (Bauch) with a paintbrush (Pinsel).

At the same time, someone who is not quite convinced excessive flattery may be the best course of action to get what they want in a given situation might say: "Diese Komplimente bauchpinseln sie zwar ganz schön, aber dadurch kommt man auch nicht weiter" (These compliments may really be flattering to them, but they will not get you ahead either).

Or you might say, on a more light-hearted note: "So lange es nicht mit Geld unterfüttert wird, ist Bauchpinseln harmlos - einfach menschlich" (As long as there is no money involved, ego-stroking is harmless - simply human).

Synonyms for "bauchpinseln" include "sich einschmeicheln" (to ingratiate oneself with someone, to please someone), "schmeicheln" (to flatter, please) and "loben" (to praise).

© Germany.info

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