German word of the day: Fisimatenten

Blackboard shows the word 'Fisimatenten'
Photo: Photo credit: Francesco Ungaro / Unsplash + Nicolas Raymond / flickr
Today’s word of the day is just as interesting to learn about as it is to pronounce.

We have all been guilty of fretting over nothing, making silly excuses or simply messing about. 

All of these are classic examples of what the Germans would call Fisimatenten

The word can be translated into English in various ways, including ‘excuses’ or ‘shenanigans’, while the corresponding phrase Fisimatenten machen usually translates as ‘to make/kick up a fuss’.

It is often suggested that the word came to be around the 19th century, emerging as a German interpretation of the French phrase je visite ma tante (I am visiting my aunt), which was often used as an excuse to get out of unwanted situations.

READ ALSO: This is how French has influenced the German language

Alternatively, some believe it comes from visitez ma tante (visit my tent), used by French soldiers fighting in the Franco-Prussian war from 1870 to 1871 to invite women back to their garrisons.

As fun as these theories may be, they are unfortunately false. The actual origin of the word is thought to stem from Medieval Latin, more specifically from the 16th century term Visae Patentes (officer commissions).

The process of being commissioned as an officer was long and complicated, which meant that the term Visae Patentes soon became synonymous with unnecessary fuss. 

A second word, die Visamente, was initially used to refer to the appearance of a coat of arms in the Middle Ages

Increasingly complicated designs soon led this word to take on a similar meaning, and the two terms were soon combined to form Fisimatenten.

Example Sentences:

Mach keine Fisimatenten! 

Don’t make a fuss! 

Schluss mit diesen Fisimatenten! Du musst jetzt zur Schule gehen.

Enough with these excuses. You’ve got to go to school now.


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