Podcast weltanschauung

Printable Version
Pronunciation: velt-ahn-shæw-ung Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: World view, outlook on life, philosophy of life.

Notes: Today's word stands pretty much as it did in German when English traced a copy for its vocabulary. This means that we do not expect to find English derivations from it. However, there are spelling and pronunciation pitfalls. (1) Remember that the W is pronounced [v], (2) that the [sh] sound is spelled SCH, and (3) that two Us precede the NG.

In Play: Today's Good Word expresses our conception of the world as it should be: "My weltanschauung cannot accommodate preteen dating or senior citizens living out of wedlock." Of course, the German word sounds so peculiar in English that it begs for facetious applications: "Ferdie decided to open a little Philosophy Shop on Market Street to treat those who are out of step with the current zeitgeist, suffering from weltschmerz, or otherwise struggling with their weltanschauung."

Word History: Today's Good Word is a German word made up of Welt "world" + Anschauung "outlook". The German word Welt "world" goes back to Old High German weralt from an older compound wer-ald- "life or age of man", from wer- "man" + ald "age, old". The same compound came down to English as world. The word wer- "man" shares the same origin as Latin vir "man", which we see in borrowed words like virile, virtue (aren't all men virile and virtuous?), and triumvirate. While the Old English word did not survive to Modern English, we find remnants of it in words like the name of the wolf man, werewolf. (We are certainly happy that curiosity about Good Words like today's is a part of Curtis Simple's weltanschauung and that it allows him to share them with us.)

Dr. Goodword,

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