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Sometimes in colloquial German I hear people saying:

"Hey, dieser Eumel hat schon wieder seine Tasche liegen lassen"
"He, Du Eumel, komm' halt mit."

Obviously it is not really nice to say that to someone but also it seems not offensive either.

Duden is not very helpful when it comes to explain what is meant by an "Eumel" as there are two opposing meanings listed:

  • (Jugendsprache veraltend) unsympathischer Mensch, Dummkopf
  • (Jugendsprache veraltend) umgänglicher, sympathischer Mensch

So now, is an Eumel someone who is nice or is it someone who is unlikeable? Where does this expression originate?

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6  
Du Eumel, warum weiß Du das nicht? ;) –  John Smithers Dec 2 '11 at 9:46
    
@JohnSmithers: Den Begriff Eumel gibt es aber doch schon lange vor dem Werbespot aus den 70er Jahren, evtl. mit anderer Bedeutung? –  Takkat Dec 2 '11 at 10:34
    
Tut er, ja. Willst Du mich jetzt auf die Suche schicken, oder was? –  John Smithers Dec 2 '11 at 10:42

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Eumel was - according to Wikipedia - a cartoon character in a 1970's advertisement of "Hoffmanns Gardinen-Neu", a curtain detergent that fought the "curtain varmints" (Eumels).

Zeichentrickwerbefiguren („Gardinenschädlinge“) von Hoffmann’s Stärkefabriken aus den 1970er Jahren

To the question, if an "Eumel" is unlikeable: I think the word is not used in that way. You can call someone "Eumel" who does or says something stupid whithout losing your sympathy by that.

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1  
He acted stupidly in some way but you still like him. It was used mostly in the 1980s I think. –  starblue Dec 1 '11 at 22:44
    
BTW, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eumel –  starblue Dec 1 '11 at 22:47
1  
I personally know a couple (in their fifties) where one calls the other "Eumel" from time to time to tease him a little bit. He doesn't mind. –  0x6d64 Dec 2 '11 at 0:14
1  
Agree with 0x6d64 and the last sentence in the answer. Eumel is used liebevoll. –  OregonGhost Dec 2 '11 at 9:15

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