MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures

about words, languages, cultures, travel

Fingerspitzengefühl – do you have it? January 19, 2018


Fingerspitzengefühl is one of those compound German words where the term means more than the two words separately. Fingerspitzen, finger tips, and gefühl, feeling, literally translate into “the fingertips feeling”. But this word has nothing to do with what you feel at the ends of your fingers.

Instead, it communicates the intuitive flair or instinct that some people just seem to possess. Fingerspitzengefühl describes a situational awareness, a sensitivity to the feeling of others. Some people are just born with the ability to respond appropriately and tactfully, while others (like me!) just end up putting their foot in their mouth. What I would give to have such a sure instinct in a tricky social situation!

Do you know how to do things the right way the first time without instruction? Can you always find the right word at the right moment? Do you understand the finer details of a situation? Now you know that you have fingerspitzengefühl. Find out how to pronounce this word here and impress everyone!

(See the MotherTongues World Words app in the Apple App Store for more untranslatable words.)



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