Podcast wisenheimer

Printable Version
Pronunciation: wai-zên-hai-mêr Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Slang) 1. A smart aleck, a wise guy, a know-it-all; an upstart who makes conceited, insolent comments. 2. Someone whose jokes are funny only to himself or herself. (Click here for more fun with slang.)

Notes: English, of course, wallows in a plethora of facetious words, mostly contrived by us Americans, who seem to play with English more than work with it. Wisenheimer is up (or down) there with gobbledygook, snollygoster, high-falutin', to just touch the tip of the iceberg. If you want to make it all German, go ahead; it's OK to spell it weisenheimer. The German word for wise is weise.

In Play: Wisenheimers are conceited people who think that they know it all: "The wisenheimer told Lucy that if she had the sense the good Lord gave a goose, she would not have served up a swan instead of a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner." A wisenheimer's sense of humor never jibes with our own: "Sorry, ma'am, some wisenheimer told me this was the men's restroom."

Word History: Today's Good and funny Word is a concoction of the adjective wise + German -enheimer found in such surnames as Oppenheimer, Frankenheimer, Schottenheimer. The implication comes from the turn of the century when the most brilliant scientific minds were assumed to be in Germany. This "ending" in words like Oppenheimer is really the suffix -er "person who", also found in English, added to Oppenheim, the name of a town. Heim is a German relative of English home, so Oppenheim originally referred to the estate of a 6th century German nobleman by the name of Obbo. (Although he can be something of a wisenheimer, Larry Brady was just doing his usual good job in suggesting this slangy Good Word for our series.)

Dr. Goodword,

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