Word of the Week: Quälgeist

Oct 16, 2014

Quälgeist Enlarge image (© dpa - Fotoreport) When you were little, you might remember nagging your parents persistently to buy you something in a store. Maybe it was an expensive toy that you wanted, or an unhealthy snack just before dinner. Whatever it was, you wouldn't give up until you walked out of the store with that item.

Germans would have called you a Quälgeist, which basically means "a pest." Qüal comes from qüalen, which means "to torment" or "to torture". Geist means "ghost." Literally, the word Quälgeist would signify an annoying ghost who causes disarray in your home. Instead, however, it defines someone or something that bothers you without end - like a whiney child, a pet who's begging for food or (in some cases) an insect that won't stop buzzing around your ear.

In most cases, however, a Quälgeist defines an annoying child. German synonyms for the word include Nervensäge, Plagegeist, Störenfried and Ruhestörer.

Dennis - der Quälgeist Enlarge image (© picture alliance/United Archives ) When the English television show "Dennis the Menace" was translated into German, it was titled Dennis - Der Quälgeist. The show follows the life of a boy named Dennis, who is annoying, mischievous and prone to getting himself into trouble - a true Quälgeist.

Do you have a Quälgeist of your own in your life?


By Nicole Glass, Editor of the Week in Germany

© Germany.info

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Word of the Week: Nervensäge


Is there someone who irritates you to the point of insanity? Does it feel like this person is sawing through your nerves every time they speak? In German, you would call them a Nervensäge.