Austrian German word of the day: Der Scherzkübel

The Local Austria
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Austrian German word of the day: Der Scherzkübel
Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

This word of the day is one that might come in handy during conversations with that wisecracking friend or relative.


Literally translated, Scherzkübel means “joke bucket.” But it doesn’t have anything to do with household equipment.

If you are with your friend and he or she is telling joke after joke, making you laugh for hours on end, you might end up calling them a Scherzkübel. Hence, a Scherzkübel is a goofy person. Good synonyms would be clown, comedian, or joker.

In North American English - and perhaps the closest translation - this person could also be described as a "wisecracker".

The origins of the word aren’t really known. What's important to know is that Scherzkübel - a combination of the words Scherz and Kübel, is used mostly in Austrian German. Meanwhile, people in Germany are more likely to use the similar sounding Scherzkeks - a combination of the words Scherz and Keks - a "joke cookie" rather than a "joke bucket." However, both mean essentially the same thing.

Scherz comes from the mid high German word scherzen, which has been used to describe being joyful since the 13th century.


Why exactly these words were combined isn’t clear.

Calling someone a Scherzkübel doesn’t always mean that the person you’re calling a joker is actually funny though.

It can also be used ironically to call out a person who has just made an inappropriate joke or is just being annoying in their goofiness altogether.

So be careful about your emphasis when calling someone a Scherzkübel, and watch both your tone and the context. 

How to use it:

Wow, Onkel Klaus, du bist ja heute ein richtiger Scherzkübel.

Wow uncle Klaus, you are a real joker today.


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