Thursday, September 20, 2007

Even better than Staubsauger...

How is it that I've gone a whole year in Germany and never managed to mention the German word for lightbulb?

Gluehbirne. The literal translation of this is "glow-pear".
I think they've outdone themselves on this one. Forget dust-sucker (vacuum), hand-shoe (glove), and zebra-stripes (crosswalk). Light-pear would have worked and been pretty damn cool. But they did even better. Glow-pear. German rules (when it's not sucking).


  1. Sara, and soon you'll be seeing German Gluehbirne in person! :D

  2. Yeah, that one cracks me up, too. Whenever there's a need to say the word, I now say "glow pear" (in English) because it's so darn funny. I can't say it without sarcasm, really, though. "Remember, Honey, that we need to buy more GLOW PEARS while we're out."

  3. I mentioned this to a German and they could not for the life of them figure out why I found the word so funny/interesting/cool!

  4. I've never considered to literally translate one or another of the German words you mentioned in your post, quite funny! My favorite is "Handschuh" which, I think, is even more 'odd' than "Glühbirne".

    As to the "Glühbirne": the more formal word would be "Glühlampe", though, say, 99% of Germans preferably use "Glühbirne". Ages ago, my physics teacher said that if anyone ever says "Glühbirne" (again), he/she will a bad mark for this lesson, and this evidently burnt into my mind as I've never said "Glühbirne" again, even after that long time after school.

    But doesn't "Glühbirne" refer to both functionality (the glowing [wire], "glühen") and shape (a pear, "Birne")...? ;-)

    Anyway, great posting and funny, indeed...

  5. Sandy: There's another more "clinical" term for Gluehbirne too, but I can't recall it at the moment. Interesting to hear your teacher was so sensitive about it! Reminds me of my old English teacher and her hatred of the phrase "a lot"!


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