Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Monday, March 30, 2015

Word of the Month: Der Dünnbrettbohrer

Word of the Month: Index

It's time to up the ante and introduce a word consisting of three compounds. In the present case, they are dünn (thin); Brett (board); and Bohrer (driller, from bohren—to drill). In combination, they give us a "driller of thin boards," indicating a person who tends to choose the path of least resistance—especially in terms of mental exertion—when dealing with a task. I've heard the term used, for example, to characterize a PhD candidate who has selected an easy topic and has treated it in a way that's just (barely) sufficient to pass. Dünnbrettbohrerin is the female form.


Heika said...

What a great word! When I was in graduate school,
I knew a good many Duennbrettbohrer, who were careful not to make their dissertation topics anything that might require extensive thought. I wish I had known the word then. Great drawing too. Perfect title for the typical Duennbrettbohrer dissertation.

Ulrich said...

Thank you, Heika! Much credit for the drawing has to go to my wife who suggested it. I was stuck with the literal meaning of the word and could think only of someone drilling through a thin board, with no connection to the figurative meaning. When I mentioned the PhD student as an example to her, she recalled her own experience at an English department, which must have been very similar to yours, and came up with the basic idea for the drawing.