German Word of the Week: Schleimbeutel

German words for parts of the body are much more colorful and descriptive than their prettified Latin counterparts in English. Fuck nostril, German gives you 'nose-hole' (Nasenloch). Suck it, placenta, in German you're 'mother-cake' (Mutterkuchen). Don't think about that last one too long.

And now for the synovial bursa. WTF is the synovial bursa? This:

A bursa (plural bursae or bursas) is a small fluid-filled sac lined by synovial membrane with an inner capillary layer of viscous fluid (similar in consistency to that of a raw egg white). It provides a cushion between bones and tendons and/or muscles around a joint.

It comes from the Latin bursa, or purse. This is why people in English get bursitis.

Ooh la-de-da, bur-si-tis! 

German, the Moe Szyslak of languages, doesn't bully its speakers with this hifalutin' Latinizing.

What is the 'synovial bursa'? It's a bag.

What's it filled with? Slime.

So the German word is Schleimbeutel — literally, 'slime-bag'. Now, you could also perhaps call it 'mucus-bag', since the German word for mucus is also 'slime'. (Hence the German word for the unpronounceable train-wreck of Latinate fuckwittery we English-speakers have to call mucous membrane is Schleimhaut — 'slime-skin').

But the synovial bursa isn't filled with mucus, is it now? No, it's filled with a 'lawyer of viscous fluid' — er, layer of viscous fluid — similar to an egg white.

In other words, slime. And if your slime-bag gets infected, you have a Schleimbeutelentzündung — slime-bag inflammation.

Now you know that in Germany, there are dozens of slimebags inside your body. In addition to the ones in high office (ba-da-BOOM!)

4 thoughts on “German Word of the Week: Schleimbeutel

  1. Very funny!

    I recently discovered the German word for placenta too and amniotic sac (Fruchtblase) and fluid (Fruchtwasser). Yuck! I have a hard time with the directness of German language, for example, calling meat ‘flesh’ + the name of the living animal. None of this mental distance between pig and pork. Ja, we are eating the (death implied) pig flesh.


  2. Hi Andrew, here’s another word for your collection of descriptive German words: Kotflügel, or shitwing. Mudwing in this context is a bit of a euphemism, as it derives from the times there was no sewage system, or rather, an open one, and the horse- and carriages, later the horseless carriages, were driven through the human and animal dump in the streets at high speeds. The American fender doesn’t quite state what it fends off, does it?

    Reminds me of the times, not so long ago, when toilets on trains here were mere holes in the floor, basically, and you could see the tracks rushing by beneath, while the train pulverized your excretia (now there’s a descriptive word for you) and blew them back in through the then open windows. Funnily enough, people did not get sick on train rides, but you were obliged to clench your buttocks until the train left the station, for hygienic reasons. So, after boarding, there was often a flock of people with worried looks on their faces hovering near these conveniences, looking at their watches and silently negotiating the question of who gets to go first, and when. A question of politeness and mutual trust, if ever there was one.



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