Advent Calendar 12- “I Broke German”

Written By: Emanuel Updated: April 12, 2021

“broke German”

Hey everyone,

welcome to door 12 of our German Advent Calendar, and behind it is the word that describes many people’s financial situation after all that Christmas shopping. The German word for broke. No, it’s not gebrochen.
It is pleite. And it can actually be both, broke and bankrupt.

  • Ich bin pleite.
  • I’m broke.
  • Am Monatsende ist Maria immer komplett pleite.
  • At the end of the months, Maria is always completely broke.

  • Die Stadt ist de facto pleite.
  • The town is in fact bankrupt.

  • Die Firma ist wegen dem Shitstorm fast pleite gegangen.
  • The company almost went bankrupt because of the shitstorm.

As you can see, the usage is pretty much the same as in English. You are pleite and you go pleite.
But unlike broke,  pleite can also be a noun, die Pleite, and that is not limited to financial context but can be used as a colloquial term for failure, let down.

  • Das war eine totale Pleite.
  • That was nothing/a total failure.

Now, pleite pleite… if you’ve some experience with mind yoga, you’ll agree that it sounds a bit like to plead. Which would make sense. I mean… when you’re broke, you’ll likely do some pleading.
But pleite is actually a Yiddish word and it is based on the Hebrew word pelēṭā which meant the successful escape. Which is kind of what you’d need back in the day when you couldn’t pay your debts to that sketchy loan shark.
But yeah… in our minds we can just connect to  to plead. I mean… who is etymology to tell us what is related to what? A science? Pshhhhh. Bitch, puhleeeeeeze…. … … …
Oh man, that just ruined it, I guess.
But, boy was I close. I almost did it. I almost managed to write up a nice, conventional, family friendly piece without any swearing or crazy-ness.
Well, I shall try anew on the morrow :).
Let me know in the comments, if you have any questions.
Schönen Tag und bis morgen.

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