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I heard someone say something that sounded like "Verreck du Ass". I'm sure it's not good!

I looked up verrecken and know that is a slang word for die. I must have misunderstood "Ass" - I only know it to be the past tense of eat or an Ace playing card. What is the actual expression?

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    Could »Ass« have been »Assi«? – Raketenolli Jul 9 at 10:22
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    @Raketenolli "Aas", not "Assi". – Uwe Jul 9 at 11:57
  • @Uwe: Do you have any evidence it was "Aas" in this case rather than "Assi"? At least in my limited experience, the latter seems to be the more common insult by orders of magnitude, and therefore was my very first assumption, as well. – O. R. Mapper Jul 9 at 12:22
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    "Verreck Du Aas" is a fixed phrase. Compare the number of Google hits for "Verreck Du Aas" vs. "Verreck Du Assi". – Uwe Jul 9 at 13:12
  • "past tense of eat" - the past tense of essen (to eat) is (with long a), not ass, but it sounds like Aas (carrion), the word you heard. – rexkogitans Jul 10 at 8:22
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I'm sure it's not good!

Yes, that's not good. It's hate speech.

I looked up verrecken and know that is a slang word for die.

Yes, that's also correct. It's imperative for die.

I must have misunderstood "Ass" - I only know it to be the past tense of eat or an Ace playing card. What is the actual expression?

The actual expression is most probably Aas which is translated to English as carrion.

Funny enough, that doesn't make any sense at all, since we can consider that carrion refers to dead meat already, so the "Verreck" is going completely into the void.

As most of that kind of hate speech, the people posting such messages wheresoever aren't well aware of the simplest grammatical or any contextual connotations.

I hope I can make you feel better by exposing the general dumbness of such people, who don't even know the basic knowledge of their native language, but claim or blame others to miss such basic stuff.

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    With a bit of Googling I found that some people also use the expression in a humorous way when someone is sneezing, instead of "Gesundheit". So I think you are a bit too harsh in your judgement. – Carsten S Jul 8 at 19:27
  • Thank you, both! – Wortspiel Jul 8 at 19:39
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    Usually, hate speech isn't used for speech used to express hatred towards the listener, but it's a legal term for speech expressing hatred of a particular group of people. (Marriam-Webster) (Usually people of a specific ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation etc., not just "my neighbors" or something like that.) Also, for what it's worth, I think most people who call another person "Aas" are perfectly aware of the fact that that person is, in fact, alive, so asking them to die isn't as redundant as you make it sound. – sgf Jul 8 at 21:01
  • MY first instinct was that [As] is northern German. (Because the rare occasions when I hear that saying is from people who knwo Platt). But "Ass" would mean "Achse" (axis) thus makes no sence here and "Aas" also means "Aas" (carrion) so even if the saying has northern German roots, it still doubles up on dead meat. – hajef Jul 9 at 8:55
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The expression is "Verreck(e), Du Aas". "Verrecken" means "to die miserably". "Aas", literally "carrion", "dead animal body", is a very traditional and a bit old-fashioned insult, primarly for a dishonorable, malicious, perfidious person.

Combining both, "Verreck(e), Du Aas" is a curse. Something like "Die, Motherfucker". If you read it in early 20th century texts, it means exactly that.

That usage is outdated, though. If you hear it today, it's most likely a humorous alternative for "Gesundheit!" when somebody sneezes. This is a bit similar to wishing "Hals- und Beinbruch", or in English, "break a leg": There are old superstitions that the gods of fate may intentionally do the opposite of whatever you wish, so in order to fool them, you invert your wish yourself.

  • Very interesting. I didn't know that the expression was used in German literature. Can you give examples? An Internet search provided two occurences: 1) In Hans Fallada's "Jeder stirbt für sich allein" (quotation: "Goebbels, du Aas, verrecke"). 2) In Joseph Goebbels' "Michael" (I didn't know that he wrote a novel ...) – Paul Frost Jul 9 at 13:00
  • Sorry, I was off by one century. The phrase seems to have been popular (in the original pejorative sense) in particular between WW I and WW II. In addition to quotations you found see for instance this text from Remarque, this diary entry, or the testimony reported here. – Uwe Jul 9 at 14:08
  • Is that humorous alternative a regional thing? I've never heard it in such context. – npst Jul 10 at 15:10
  • @npst Perhaps, but I don't know where it's used and where it isn't. – Uwe Jul 10 at 15:38
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To me, it's clearly a calque from the French, Crève, charogne!, with Crève! being the imperative of crever, to die (of animals) and charogne, Aas. Charogne can easily be used figuratively to refer to humans. Baudelaire famously entitled one of his pieces A une charogne. It's very disparaging. The same is true for charognard, Aasfresser, to refer to people that don't hesitate to speak ill or otherwise take undue advantage of the dead. It's obvious Aas and Aasfresser do not lend themselves to such figurative uses to the same extent that they do in French.

  • In German "Aasgeier" is a common word to denote an "exploiter" or a "profiteer". See openthesaurus.de/synonyme/Aasgeier. – Paul Frost Jul 9 at 11:10
  • This answer is difficult to understand for people who don't speak French. Could you please edit it to make it more clear? – Arsak Jul 10 at 6:13
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My guess for the second part would be that you misheard the word "Arsch" as in "verreck du Arsch" which means "kick the bucket, asshole" instead of "Ass".

By the way, the past tense of eat is "aß", not "ass".

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As the previous answers suggest, most likely you heard "Verrecke, du Aas". Using "Aas" in such a context has the same meaning as in French (see petitrien's comment). There are quite a number of well-known phrases like "Du freches Aas" or "Du faules Aas". Look at https://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/Aas - Bedeutungen [4]. Also see https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Aas.

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