In a holding pattern

At the end of Friday’s Dialog in Deutsch session, one of the group leaders asked me if I knew the words vergeuden or die Vergeudung. I had to say “no” and it was a challenge even to repeat them! She smiled and said that they meant “to waste” or “to squander” something or “a waste.” Canoo.net gave this definition: etwas planlos/sinnlos/unrationell* aufwenden – “to use/spend something in an aimless, pointless or inefficient way.” Eager to know more,  I discovered some of the common accompaniments to these words using DWDS.de:

  • von RessourcenSteuergeldernSteuermittel, ArbeitskraftRohstoffen, Energie, Geld
  • Kraft, Talente, Jahre, Menge, Milliarden, Viertel, LebenszeitGut 
  • unverantwortliche, sinnlose, gigantische, volkswirtschaftliche, nutzlos, unnötig
  • Behörden, Staat, Einführung, Regierung, Politik
  • in Warteschleifen, im Kampf, von Arbeitsstunden, an Stellen, mit Dingen, mit Diskussionen, mit Streit, auf Weise, zu Energie, zu Zeit, für Projekte

Dict.cc offered a couple of idiomatic phrases in English that can be translated using vergeuden: “to flog a dead horse” – Kraft vergeuden – and “to spend money like water” – Geld vergeuden.

While some might disagree, discovering more about about how one talks about wasting time, etc., in German was not aimless or pointless or inefficient exercise for me!

 


 

*Unrationell is a member of the –ell family of false friends (e.g., punktuell – “selective,” eventuell – “possibly,” aktuell – “topical”).  Confusingly, there is another form of suffixation with –ell and –uell that are cognates (e.g., bakteriell and manuell), you can learn about them here: http://www.canoo.net/services/WordformationRules/Derivation/To-A/Suffixe-F/ell.html?lang=en)

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