German word of the day: Das Paradebeispiel

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German word of the day: Das Paradebeispiel

It is often said that the German language has a word for everything. Today’s word a day is a prime example (see what we did there?).


The German word Paradebeispiel, which literally translates as ‘parade example’, is used to refer to a person or object that is the absolute embodiment of something. 


Whether it’s a classmate who is the textbook example of a teacher's pet, or a newly passed law that is the epitome of good foreign policy, there is no shortage of Paradebeispiele in the world.

Just as a parade is loud and rather hard to miss, a Paradebeispiel is usually a glaringly obvious example of a certain concept or idea. 

Parades such as the Carnival of Cultures in Berlin are as hard to miss as 'Paradebeispiele'. Photo: DPA

As parades are most often lively and fun events, the term is most often used in a positive sense: a hit album may be a Paradebeispiel for musical success, or a new building may be a Paradebeispiel for modern innovation. 

It can, however, also be used in a more negative way: some may say that socks and sandals are a Paradebeispiel for bad taste, or that a country’s government is a Paradebeispiel for failed leadership. 

READ ALSO: 10 ways of speaking German you'll only ever pick up on the street

Similar English terms include ‘prime example’, ‘case in point’ or ‘textbook example’.

You will often also see people pointing to an object or person after making a statement and saying ‘Exhibit A’, suggesting that said object or person is perfect evidence for what they have just said. 

So, if you ever find yourself being known as a Paradebeispiel for something, let’s hope it’s for one of your better qualities or achievements!


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