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I've heard that my favourite word "dingsbums" might not be acceptable in some circumstances due to it being related to "bumsen" which, I'm told, is some kind of a word for intimate relations.

Yet when I've visited friends' families in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, people only found it funny that I should know such a word.

So is this really where the word comes from and how acceptable is it under various circumstances, in various places, with various audiences?

Also, is "dingsda" a more acceptable variant?

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If you like "dingsbums", you might also like "Dingenskirchen" (de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Dingenskirchen). This way you can be more specific about the word you cannot remember at the moment. –  bjoernz Jun 2 '11 at 11:38
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Was ist der Unterschied zwischen einem Plastiksackerl und einer Blondine? Das eine ist ein Dingsbums, das andere ein Bumsdings. I wouldn't consider it rude, but not part of the high language, which also reflects in this joke and pun on words. –  Samuel Herzog Jun 2 '11 at 15:16
    
I think it's children's language. If you use the word, you sound as if you are talking to (or among) children. –  Andrew J. Brehm Jun 2 '11 at 15:41
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Dingsbums is informal and cute, and doesn't have any sexual connotation at all. –  fzwo Jun 2 '11 at 16:42
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It is not children's language. It is a kind of lazy talk, but not child-ish. I think it is close in style to "thingy" as used in "Men in black". –  TheBlastOne Jun 2 '11 at 18:04

12 Answers 12

up vote 20 down vote accepted

I have never connected dingsbums with bumsen. I don't think this connection is usually made.

To me dingsbums is a perfectly fine word to use, albeit very colloquial and hence not necessarily appropriate in serious situations. It's only rude if you keep referring to somebody as dingsbums whose name you should know. ;-)

Dingsda, dingenskirchen and hastenichgesehen are nice variations.

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Or schlachmichtot. –  starblue Jun 2 '11 at 14:38
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Shortest alternative: Dings –  oleschri Jun 3 '11 at 17:26
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Shortest alternative for locations (Wir fahren nach Dingsbums) would be JWD*, alias 'janz weit draußen', janz := ganz. *speak: Jot We De. –  user unknown Jun 4 '11 at 4:49
    
@userunknown: Maybe you would like to look at german.stackexchange.com/questions/9428/… –  fifaltra Jan 2 at 15:15

dingsbums

is not offensive, rude or vulgar. It's mostly funny, don't worry about using it.

Just avoid it in the most formal discussions. ;-)

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It's not rude, most people wouldn't associate it with 'bumsen'. But it is definitely a very very informal word (if it can be called a word at all) and would seem very sloppy or even clumsy in any kind of formal setting. So just keep using it to score with German friends and otherwise don't use it at all. :)

Same is true for 'dingsda' that's even more of a non-word, I reckon.

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Well, both words are in the Duden. Depends on your definition of "word". ;) –  musiKk Jun 2 '11 at 11:55

Absolutely not. Even though "Dingsbums" is colloquial, it is widely used when you don't know how to call a thing, which you might not be able to point at. "Dingsda" is more used if there is an object that you can point at but forgot how to call it.

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I do agree that dingsbums is slang and even though not rude or offensive should not be used in a formal or official setting.

May favourite to use there would be Ding:

Was ist denn das für ein Ding?

Ich möchte mir dieses Ding da näher ansehen.

By using Ding any adverse or funny reactions can be avoided.


Using Ding or Dingsbums in respect to a person may be disrespectful:

Das hat doch der Dings[bums] immer gesagt

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Dingsbums does imply that you know the proper name, you just can't think of it right now. As such, a proper "formal alternative" would be something along the lines of "Der Name ist mir gerade entfallen, aber dieses [Gerät] ist…". Simply Ding doesn't quite catch that. –  deceze Jun 2 '11 at 12:11
    
As it indeed is better to name a thing (e.g. Gerät), it's accepted to only use Ding even when in a formal setting. This way it keeps your expression short and you don't distract from the point you want ot make. –  Takkat Jun 2 '11 at 13:36

man kann auch einfach Ding oder Dingsda benutzen

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There is an operetta Der Vetter aus Dingsda where "Dingsda" is used as a place name.

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The connection between dingsbums and bumsen (informal for having intercourse) is normally not made. As noted before it's informal.

Greetings from germany!

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Definitely doesn't have any sexual connotations, at least not when I was growing up in Austria over 20 years ago. Where did you hear that it might be unacceptable? It's very informal, perhaps child-like, but in no way offensive. So use it with abandon in informal contexts, but not in a boardroom. The closest I can come off the top of my head to an equivalent in English is something along the lines of "thingamabob".

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I can't remember where I heard that. Perhaps on the internet since I wasn't aware of the word bumsen before and in fact have never used it since either. I only learned about bumsen in my quest to find out all about Dingsbums. I learned dingsbums from friends or friends of friends in Germany or Switzerland about ten years ago but I have also collected synonyms and translations of thingamabob in other languages (-: –  hippietrail Jun 2 '11 at 18:18
    
Granted, if you reverse the 2 pieces, and said "Bumsdings" instead, you can imagine an entirely different image popping up in people's minds. A mistake you'd want to avoid. –  Philipp Hanes Dec 16 '12 at 22:05

"Dingsbums" (like "Dingsda") is a lazy paraphrase of a noun. Often used, if the talker can't remember the correct name of an object.

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Dingsbums

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Think of "dingsbums" and its variants as being filler words just like "whatchamacallit" is in English.

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It's more childish than rude. It's definitely informal.

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