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German word of the day: Bescheuert

The Local Germany
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German word of the day: Bescheuert
Photo: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr

If you're feeling frustrated with something, look no further than this German word.


What does it mean?

Bescheuert is a colloquial adjective which means that something is nuts, bonkers, daft, crazy, stupid and, well, you get the idea.

“Scheuern” means to scrub but also to hit, so literally bescheuert could be used to describe someone or something that has been hit hard. But figuratively, it could mean something has been impacted so hard that it has diminished in value. 

What are its origins?

The word comes from the earlier mentioned verb “scheuern”. Centuries ago it was more frequently used instead of rieben, which also means to rub.

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The origin of its modern meaning trace back to the release of Grammatisch-kritisches Wörterbuch der Hochdeutschen Mundart (1807), written by Johann Christoph Adelung. In it he says “Jemandem den Kopf scheuern, figürlich, ihm einen derben Verweis geben”  (meaning: “To rub someone’s head, figuratively, is to give them a crude reprimand.”)

So essentially to ask if someone was bescheuert back in 1807 was a way of inquiring if they had been badly reprimanded for something they did.

How is it used?

Nowadays its connotation is a lot more negative when used personally or against someone in a serious tone. It is most commonly used in this form, or in the phrase “Das ist ja bescheuert!” (“Well, that’s pretty dumb!”) to describe a fact or reality of everyday life that simply doesn’t suit you.

It is occasionally used to describe if something doesn't look quite right: “Das sieht bescheuert aus.” (“That looks stupid.”)


Der Laden ist heute nicht geöffnet? Das ist ja bescheuert.

The shop isn't open today? That's just crazy. 

Was ich also echt bescheuert finde, sind Leute die sich nie über etwas entscheiden können.

What I really find dumb are people who can´t make up their mind about anything.


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