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Servus, my lovely literary loves, and thank you for listening in once again! You may have guessed by European greeting, that we are once again heading to the wonderful land of Germany, to explore today’s nifty word: treppenwitz. Treppenwitz is a German word meaning ‘a clever remark that comes to mind when it’s too late to say it’. You might, for example, be lying in bed one night, when the rap battle of the previous day drifts to mind, and you experience treppenwitz, as you suddenly think of a better rhyme than you first uttered to fit the first line about your opponent’s dog looking like a squashed bagel. Ah well. You’ll get ‘em next time.  The word ‘treppenwitz’ comes from the German words ‘treppe’ meaning ‘stairs’ and ‘witz’ meaning ‘wit or joke’; thus, staircase wit, or a remark thought of only too late. It is a calque produced from the French expression ‘l’esprit de l’escalier’ which means ‘mind of the staircase’. During a dinner at the home of a statesman, Denis Diderot was left speechless by a remark made to him. He wrote, ‘a sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument levelled against him, becomes confused and can only think clearly again at the bottom of the stairs’, and thus the idea of the ‘staircase mind’ - thinking of something only when the moment has passed. ‘Espirit’ in French means ‘mind’ or ‘immaterial or incorporeal substance’ and ‘escalier’ means ‘stairs’. If we return to the German, the word ‘treppe’ comes from Middle High German ‘trappe’, which is from Old High German ‘trappa’, and possibly from Proto-Indo-European ‘*dremb-’ meaning ‘to run’. ‘Witz’ comes from the from Old High German ‘wizzi’, from Proto-Germanic ‘*witją’, in turn from Proto-Indo-European ‘*weyd-’ which means ‘see or know’. And it all makes sense. Isn’t language wonderful? Written by Taylor Davidson, Read by Zane C Weber Subscribe to us on ITUNES, STITCHER, SPOTIFY, or your podcatcher of choice. Find us on FACEBOOK or TWITTER Become a Patron of That’s Not Canon Productions at Patreon! Email us at [email protected]  

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