Word of the Week: Blitzgneisser

[ˈblɪt͡sˌɡnaɪ̯ sɐ]

Noun. A very smart person. Lit. a “lightning comprehender,” someone who gets things in a flash. A compound word consisting of Blitz (lightning) and a derivative of gneißen, an archaic Austro-Bavarian verb meaning “to comprehend.” Which would be a great compliment, if you actually meant it. But what does Blitzgneisser really mean?

In Austria, however, it is more often applied sarcastically, to denigrate someone who is quite the opposite. But English-speakers beware: Do not equate this dig with expressions like “smartass” or “wiseacre,” which imply impertinence and are better translated as oberg’scheit (lit. “overclever”). Calling someone a Blitzgneisser (or Blitzgneißer) simply means that person is a bit slow on the uptake — except, of course, in the rare cases, it’s used sincerely.

Note that it’s entirely possible to be an oberg’scheiter Blitzgneißer, and the two, in fact, often go hand in hand.

No matter how well you speak German, the Word Of The Week will help you impress any Viennese! While learning German is not an easy task in general, learning the language in Austria can come to be twice as complicated.

But Austrians may nod approvingly if you put together a coherent sentence, harmonizing the Akkusativpronomen correctly with the subject. But they’ll love you if you enrich your vocabulary with just one word of Wienerisch. 

Strongly linked to local cultural individualitis, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar to their cultural context. The Word of the Week is here to help you understand those singularities and impress the locals with some real Viennese words and expressions.

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