Word of the Week: Zechpreller
Enlarge image (© www.colourbox.com) As we all know, Germans have a word for everything. They even have a word for someone who eats at a restaurant and leaves without paying: a Zechpreller. The word alone sounds pretty malicious!
A Zechpreller is a bill-dodger; someone who dines in and then dashes. In some cases, this type of person may order the more expensive menu items, since he or she has no intention of paying for them. While the word Zechpreller refers to the person committing the crime, Zechprellerei defines the crime itself - eating in a restaurant without paying for the food. And the phrase auf die Zeche prellen means leaving a restaurant without paying for the bill. In this context alone, Zeche means "bill" and prellen means to leave without paying. But don't get yourself confused: when you are asking for a check, ask for a Rechnung - not a Zeche (the word Zeche can only be used together with preller/prellen in the context of dining and dashing).
Hopefully this is a word you won't need to use to define any of your friends. And hopefully you are not a Zechpreller yourself.
The word has been around since the 19th century and continues to be used colloquially today.
By Nicole Glass, Editor of The Week in Germany