How to call a person who always has an excuse for everything that could be traced to himself? Or which seems not to be honest with himself?

Examples could be:

"No I didn't gain weight because of the two chocolate bars that I eat every day. I gained weight because of hypothyroidism (malfunction of the thyroid)."

"No, I didn't fail class because of starting to learn two days before the final exam and working part time. I failed because I worked so much."

You could say: "Die Person ist nicht ehrlich mit sich selbst."

But is there a single word for this?

  • Such a person is naiv.
    – Em1
    Jun 15, 2016 at 11:46
  • 2
    @Em1 I always thought that naiv is used meaning a bit simple minded or arglos, nichts böses erwartend. Which pretty much complies also with the explanation on dwds.de/?qu=naiv Jun 15, 2016 at 11:59
  • @ThorstenDittmar If I considered naiv being the right answer to that question, I would've made it an answer. Still, naiv would describe the person in the two examples above pretty well.
    – Em1
    Jun 15, 2016 at 12:08
  • @Em1 Had I expected that this was supposed to be an answer I'd have suggested you write this as an answer. All I wanted to say is: I disagree! A person who acts like in the examples is in no way naive, but rather selfish, cold and calculating, as most people who act like that know exactly that things are actually their own fault, but instead they blame the circumstances. Jun 15, 2016 at 12:11
  • I feel that there is a difference between those that use the excuses because they don’t know better (naïve) and those that use them even though they know better (this question).
    – Jan
    Jun 15, 2016 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


Closest things I can up with is a number of Idioms that describe the act doing that, rather than the actor:

Er ist nie um eine Ausrede verlegen

That is someone who is always able to find an even flimsy excuse for something.

Er weiss immer, wie er sich aus der Affäre ziehen kann

While the original French affaire generally refers to a specific matter, it is mainly used for something negative, typically embarrassing in German. Being able to pull yourself out of such something would probably describe someone like you are referring to.

Er windet sich wie ein Aal

Literally translates to "He twists himself like an eel" and means he tries to escape by lying and finding excuses - Just like an eel when caught.

Den kann man nicht festnageln

Is maybe a bit farther away from your examples and describes someone you cannot pin down on something (that might have been a wrongdoing)

Note all the examples assume you are referring to a person that actually knows better.


I'm a native german speaker and as far as I know there is no single-word for someone you tried to describe or at least no accurate one. There may be a colloquial word for this in some regions in the german language area, but not a commonly used one.

However, there are some alternatives for a person who is more directly not saying the truth for himself:

A person who lies to himself or who is manipulating facts for his own ego is often called:

Jemand, der sich in die eigene Tasche lügt

There is no accurat translation, but if you really try you could translate it as "Someone who lies in his own bag" what doesn't really make sence in the english language.

Another possible alternative: The action of lying can be translated as "vormachen", so someone who lies to himself is described:

Jemand, der sich etwas vormacht

This however is less commonly used in this form of sentence, more likely you will find the phrase "Mach dir nichts vor" which is the imperative form and means that the addressed person should stop lying to himself.

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