Word of the Week: Schmähtandler [ʃmɛːˈtandlɐ]

Noun. A liar, swindler, or teller of tall tales. A compound noun consisting of Schmäh, a wonderfully versatile word that can mean anything from a clever remark to a playful falsehood to a certain savoir vivre; and Tandler, a somewhat archaic term for a seller of sundries or used goods, that lives on in this popular expression. The image conveyed is of a purveyor of Schmäh, selling their listeners wisecracks and unlikely stories – or even outright scamming them. The underlying implications depend largely on context: It can be used to denounce a habitual leg-puller or an actual confidence trickster, but in a city where “having Schmäh” is considered high praise, using it appreciatively is tantamount to elevating someone into the ranks of true Viennese originals. After all, the gift of gab, the ability to talk your way out of any situation with bonmots,witticisms, outlandish fabrications and superficially humorous but actually deep insights is something the great Wieners from Nestroy to Qualtinger to Häupl all had in common, and thatthe rest of us aspire to achieve.

“Der ur Schmähtandler!” (“What a teller of tall tales!”)

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