A to Z Challenge

V for Verschlimmbessern


Language: German

Meaning: To make something worse when trying to improve it.

We all know this feeling. Whenever we see something is not quite up to the mark, we don our expert hats and come up with innovative ways to make it better. Be it a recipe that has been made with a little too much of salt or maybe something else we consider is our area of expertise, quick fixes and sometimes new ideas are our favourites. But more often than not, these ideas for improvement end up making the original product worse.

Our intentions might have been good, and our belief in our own capabilities a little coloured by our ego, but many such improvement projects actually do end up making something worse. Many a times we might need to use this word as a warning to ourselves, or a teasing for others, and sadly, English does not give us a single word for this. German, however, has a word that is a bit hard to pronounce. But once we know this, we will start using this word a lot, possibly!


Flash Fiction #22

Vishnu looked pleased with himself. Things were falling into place. Finally! He looked around at the church, its huge altar and high ceiling very majestic. The band played an upbeat tune and in the distance, he saw a group of women huddled together. And amidst them walked his angel – the bride. And people said a German – Indian combination would not work out. Well, boo to them. Finally his dreams were coming true.

His wedding breezed off without a glitch. And the little cottage in the German countryside his wife owned looked like it came straight out of a fairy tale. Even moving in was fun, all the planning and organising very exciting. They had settled in for about a week when the first hurdle came. The fairytale cottage was set about a century back – so were the amenities. When the tap in the kitchen started leaking that lazy Sunday morning, Vishnu was forced to employ his subpar plumbing skills.

Having proudly refused the help of a plumber, despite his wife’s repeated requests, he was not even feeling remotely successful. Hoping against hope that the pipes would require just mSeal, he fumbled about with the valves, trying to stop the flow of water before he did anything else. How was he supposed to know they turned the other way?

Horrified, he watched as the leaking faucet turned into a huge fountain. The more he tried the various knobs and valves, the heavier the flow of water became. Feeling panicked and helpless, he turned when he heard mildly amused laughter. He smiled at her sheepishly.

“I told you not to. Verschlimmbessern” she murmured softly, not wanting to hurt his feeling.

Finally he conceded defeat and learnt his first word in German. He liked the English version better, though. ‘Plumber’ sounded much more pronounceable.


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