Advent Calendar 7

Written By: Emanuel Updated: December 7, 2023

 

“Make Down”

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Hi ihr Lieben,

and welcome to day 7 of our Advent Calendar and today we once again have… a yummy little vocabulary treat.
A verb most of you probably don’t know but that’ll make you sound REALLY native speaker like if you pull it out in the right moment.
I’m talking about the phrase

sich etwas abschminken

At the core of it, we have the noun die Schminke, which is the old school word for makeup. Well… the creamy parts of it, like… I don’t know… rouge or something. And the verb schminken is pretty much about putting on makeup – either onto someone or onto oneself, in which case it’d be sich (Accusative) schminken.
Nowadays, die Schminke is pretty much only used for slap or maquillage that you’d use for Halloween for instance, while actual makeup is simply called das Makeup.

  • Maria trägt viel Schminke. (sounds like she’s having a clown face… this white and red one)
  • Maria trägt viel Makeup. (sounds like she’s wearing a lot of makeup)

And the verb schminken does sound a bit “unrefined” as well, and the more elegant wording would be Makeup auflegen or Makeup machen.

But you can still find schminken at least in colloquial speech.

  • Wenn Thomas auf Party geht, dann schminkt er sich.
  • If Thomas goes out to party, he puts on makeup.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

Cool.
And what happens if we add the prefix ab- ? Well, in the article about ab I wrote a while back (link will be below) we find out that the two core ideas of ab are downward and separation.
And so it makes a lot of sense that abschminken is about removing makeup.

  • “Schatz, kommst du ins Bett?”
    “Ja, ich muss mich nur schnell abschminken.”
  • “Honey, are you coming to bed?”
    “Yes, I just have to remove my makeup real quick.”
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

But this meaning is NOT why we’re talking about it here.
It’s the figurative meaning that makes it such a colloquial gem.
And that’s basically about crushed hopes.

Like… imagine you were on track for a raise at work, but then, at a monthly meeting, the CEO says things like “nAvIgAtInG tHe CuRrEnT EcOnOmY” or “tHe MaRkEt CoNdItIoNs” and you know you can forget about that raise.

  • Toll, die Gehaltserhöhung kann ich mir abschminken.
  • Great, I can kiss that raise good bye.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

Of course, you wouldn’t say that IN the meeting, because it’s just too colloquial for that.
And you wouldn’t say it at the bar after work either. Because you simply have no money for the bar after work.
But yeah… that’s the meaning of sich etwas abschminken.
Let’s look at a couple more examples:

  • Nach der schlechten ersten Hälfte hatten sich viele Fans den Super Bowl Sieg schon abgeschminkt.
  • After the horrible first half, many fans had already kissed the Super Bowl win good bye.
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

  • An der Abendkasse ein Ticket für die Show zu kriegen kannst du dir abschminken.
  • Getting a ticket for the show at the door?! Forget about it!
  • Practice pronunciation – click once to start recording and again to stop

     

In the first example, we’re using the verb abschminken “directly” but that’s actually kind of rare. The phrasing together with können is much more common.

And if you’re now wondering how this use came about and what it has to do with makeup… well, sometimes, all we really need is one meme.

Harsh but true.

And that’s it for today :)!

Let me know in the comments if you’ve heard sich etwas abschminken or if you have any questions about it. Have a great day and I’ll see you tomorrow.

further reading: 

 

 

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