Nervenkitzel means literally “nerve tickle”; an informal German expression denoting the thrill and rush of adrenaline-inducing activities.
The Duden defines the term as “associated with pleasant feelings, excitation of the nerves through the dangerousness, tension of a situation” such as the thrill of roller coaster rides, or bungee jumping.
While anglophones can have their fancies or funny bones tickled, German speakers are content with it being done to their nerves. Don’t mistake Nervenkitzel with Nervensäge (lit. “nerve saw”), an especially irritating person who figuratively saws away at your nerves.
Strongly linked to local cultural individualities, the slangs change and evolve in all cultures around the world, the words and phrases make sense only when one is familiar with 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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