Word of the Week: Riechkolben

May 27, 2016

Do you know someone who has a nose like Pinocchio? Or maybe a nose that reminds you of Rudolph? Germans would call such noses a Riechkolben!

The term comes from the words riechen ("to smell") and Kolben (which best translates to "conk" - a colloquial term for nose). A Riechkolben defines a very large or swollen nose - one that catches your attention. Perhaps someone with a Riechkolben is suffering from a cold and has a red and oversized nose, perhaps someone got hit in the face, or perhaps someone just has a naturally large nose. Whatever the reason, you're more likely to describe that large object on their face as a Riechkolben than a Nase ("nose").

Riechkolben Enlarge image Is your nose a Riechkolben? (© colourbox.com) It's probably not the nicest way to refer to someone's nose. After all, who wants to be acknowledged for having a Rudolph-sized nose on their face?

But it is not always an insult in German. The term Riechkolben is also a medical one: it is a synonym for the olfactory bulb, a neural structure that is involved in creating a sense of smell. The olfactory bulb is located at the bottom of the brain - not the nose. So in this regard, the Riechkolben has nothing to do with the size of one's nose and simply describes a part of the human anatomy.

Most Germans, however, will use it to describe what they see.

By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany

© Germany.info

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