things I could have said while falling down the stairs

chris baden-mayer

New Member
English-American
Is there a single word that means "things I could have said while falling down the stairs"? I heard it referred to once as a very long German word.
 
  • Marty*

    Senior Member
    German
    Do you have more information about the word? Maybe a part of it? I have absolutely no idea what could be meant.
    It's probably an artificially constructed funny chain word like:
    Donaudampfschifffahrtskapitänspatentausstellungsbehörde
    or
    Oberpostdirektionsbriefmarkenstempelautomatenmechatronikergehilfe
     

    hilbert

    New Member
    germany
    These 2 words are actually the longest words in the german language.

    But this doesn´bt make any sense ""things I could have said while falling down the stairs", can u give more information?
     

    chris baden-mayer

    New Member
    English-American
    Thank you both for responding! I remembered this phrase and the explanation that it was all a single German word from a college class in Florida back in 1963. I have been quoting the story ever since to
    anyone who talks about the German language as being difficult to learn.
    I must have been mistaken: it was probably a professorial joke. Or maybe a made-up example by a French professor who didn't know German very well. I always took the phrase to mean "I wish I had thought of saying (whatever) when I was in an embarrassing situation". Again, thank you for responding. Sorry to get you on a wild-goose-chase.
     

    Ralf

    Senior Member
    German
    The only word that would come to my mind under those circumstances would be quite short and rather drastic. ;)

    It is probably about something for which there is hardly enough time left to put it appropriately (perhaps as it occurs somewhat unexpectedly--such as falling down the stairs). Unfortunately I can't think of any German word that captures that concept.

    Ralf
     

    chris baden-mayer

    New Member
    English-American
    Check out Jana337 from the Czech Republic who suggests "treppenwitz" in German and "l'esprit de l'escalier" in French. Evidently 'witz' and 'esprit' have rather different meanings today because these phrases are both so old. But both terms mean "a witty remark one thinks he could have said...while he's going down the stairs leaving the party". J337 refers us to Wikipedia for the definitions and Wikipedia has a link to a very funny use of the concept in a segment of "Seinfeld", a long-running and widely popular American sit-com.

    Thanks for your response. Evidently there are lots of people around the world who are Wordoholics like me.
     

    gaer

    Senior Member
    US-English
    Don't you mean Treppenwitz?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L'esprit_de_l'escalier

    Welcome, by the way. :)
    Jana, although the Wiki article says this:

    "Sometimes Treppenwitz, the concept's German translation, is used to express the same idea. The nearest English expression would be "being wise after the event"."

    The nearest English word is actually one word.

    "Late!"

    This simply means that someone has lost the chance to make a clever comeback. There is either none, or the comeback "fizzles" due to late timing.

    As Ralf said, if I actually fell down the stairs, I would most likely say something much shorter and much less witty. :)
     
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