Word of the Week: Pustekuchen

Nov 28, 2014

Pustekuchen Enlarge image (© picture alliance / Arco Images GmbH) What do you say when someone tells you that they're going to fly to another country tomorrow, even though a heavy blizzard is underway? "Yeah right!", "nonsense!" or (sarcastically with an eye-roll) "Ya think?" But in German, the response to an unbelievable opinion is Pustekuchen!

If, as a second example, you expected to have a relaxing weekend while your kids were at grandma's - but your kids are now sick and unable to travel - then your hopes for a nice weekend are Pustekuchen!

In general, if you suspect someone is wrong with their prediction or opinion, you might yell out "fiddlesticks!" in response, thereby calling them out on their nonsense. In German, however, you would say Pustekuchen! instead. Pusten means "to puff" and Kuchen means cake, but in common language this has nothing to do with cake. You'd have to explore its origins to understand why:

Pustekuchen Enlarge image (© dpa) It is believed that the term originated from Yiddish, which was the common language of Jews in Eastern Europe in earlier days. Puste comes from the Yiddish word "poschut", which means "less", and Kuchen comes from "chochem", which means "intelligent." So together, these words suggest something "less intelligent" - a type of nonsense, basically. The term Pustekuchen became widely used in Berlin during the 19th century and is commonly used across Germany today.

So even though Pustekuchen sounds like something you can eat, it actually has nothing to do with food. But if you think we're wrong, let us known - tell us this entry is Pustekuchen!

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

© Germany.info

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