Word of the Month: Index
Pleite means "bankrupt" as an adjective and "bankruptcy" as a noun. A Geier is a vulture. In combination, they may denote a person who has gone bankrupt or the precarious financial situation an enterprise finds itself in, like in the sentence, "Der Pleitegeier sitzt auf dem Dach." (The Pleitegeier is sitting on the roof.)
The term derives from Yiddish plejte gejer—"bankrupt goer," i.e., someone who went bankrupt. Folk etymology turned the gejer into a Geier.
[Source: Wild Things in the German Language: Kindle/paperback version | iBooks version]
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