Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition

by Ben Schott

Schottenfreude is a collection of 120 German compound words (Komposita) made up by an Englishman. It’s an amusing coffee table book – essentially a parody of German rather than words a native speaker would ever use.

Here are some highlights:

automobile interior furnishing new aroma pleasure
“New car smell”

moron driver eyeballing
“The urge to turn and glare at a bad driver”

fingernail blackboard squeal
“The visceral hatred of certain noises”

saliva stoicism
“Pretending you haven’t been accidentally spat upon in conversation”

delisting joy
“The sense of satisfaction afforded by crossing things off lists”

dream restart attempt
“The (usually futile) attempt to return to the plot of a dream after having been woken”

inn new opening downfall certitude
“Total confidence that a newly opened restaurant is doomed to fail”

yawn contamination
“One yawn’s irrestrainable power to provoke another”

urinal reluctance
“Inability to urinate when other people are present”

desk drawer letter
“The letter you write, but never send”

idea derailment
“Irritation at losing one’s train of thought”

If you understand a bit of German, you may recognize that some of the invented words are puns. Besserwinzer, “one of those people who pretend to know more about wine than they do” is a play on the German words Besserwisser (know-it-all) and Winzer (vintner). Clever.

Rollschleppe, “the exhausting trudge up a stationary escalator” is a play on the German word for escalator, Rolltreppe (rolling stairs). However, the German word schleppen actually means to drag, so this one is a stretch.

On each spread, the words appear on the right side along with the pronunciation, definition, and the translation of the component words. The left facing page includes notes with the backstory or inspiration. For example, inspiration for Einmaleinswiedergabeschwächenstolz, “pride at your innumeracy” (multiplication table reproduction impairment pride), comes from the book Innumeracy by John Allen Paulos.

Schott, Ben, and Oscar Bandtlow. Schottenfreude: German Words for the Human Condition. New York: Blue Rider Press, 2013. Buy from

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