Word of the Week: Mauerblümchen

Nov 11, 2016

If you've ever looked at an old wall located outside somewhere, you may have noticed tiny weeds or flowers growing in its cracks. From a distance, you don't notice these flowers - you will only see them if you look for them.

Mauerblümchen Enlarge image (© picture alliance / blickwinkel/M) Like the flowers growing in a wall, a so-called Mauerblümchen is a girl or woman who often goes unnoticed. A Mauerblümchen ("wallflower") describes a very shy and introverted girl that others don't seem to notice. She is never the center of attention, and always the last one people talk to or think about. A Mauerblümchen can be quite beautiful, but she tends to blend in with the crowd or the background.

It is believed that the term originated in the Middle Ages. Back then, women often sat on the ledges of walls and waited for gentlemen to ask them to dance. Some women, however, were never asked to dance - and these women were referred to as Mauerblümchen.

Mauerblümchen Enlarge image (© picture-alliance / IMAGNO/Barbar) The word wallflower also exists in English. In English, the word first appeared at a later date in an 1820 poem titled County Ball, which describes women who stood near a wall during a ball and were not asked to dance.

If you're in a social settings, try to pay attention to the Mauerblümchen - you might discover something beautiful.

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

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Mauerblümchen