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When I was growing up, in the Berlin-area, 80s and 90s, I learned the word "Pupengang" as a synonym of "Angst", especially before giving talks/presentation or before visiting the dentist. One could say it is related to "Lampenfieber" for more generic situations.

A quick Google-search revealed no origin or first references or usages, could someone help me out there? I'm looking for its "inventor".

I'd not be surprised if someone like Goethe is the original author. I can clearly picture why the word exists, as my stomach works hard, just before the mentioned events. It's this kind of words which makes German a funny language for me.

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    Not knowing anything about it, I would, as a first guess, relate it to pupen i.e. pupsen, i.e. farting, and read farting as a polite placeholder for stronger acts of backside expression, which may occur as bodily reactions to strong fear, see also die Hosen voll haben, or to be scared shitless in English. I have however no idea who used the word first possibly in print (so that we would know about it). – Christian Geiselmann Nov 19 '19 at 10:39
  • I guess this is a typical berlin-style word creation, but it might get difficult to find a written reference ... – Arsak Nov 19 '19 at 10:43
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    @PatrickB. pupen is definitely Berlin-Brandenburg-style. – Olafant Nov 19 '19 at 14:03
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    I'm living in Berlin for 51 years now but never heard the expression "Pupengang". – Volker Landgraf Nov 19 '19 at 18:32
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    Maybe the eastern part of Berlin? – Patrick B. Nov 20 '19 at 10:08
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Pupe is a word that was (and maybe still is?) used in the eastern part of Berlin and also in Brandenburg and means After (engl. anus) based on the verb pupen meaning to fart.

The phrase

jemandem geht die Muffe

meaning sb. is frightened is also phrased

jemandem geht die Pupe

and therefore the word for being frightened (Muffengang) is

Pupengang.


Der wahre E: ein Wörterbuch der DDR-Soldatensprache von Klaus-Peter Möller lists Pupe and Pupengang on page 163.


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The example phrase

Du kannst mich mal an der ~ schmatzen.

might be the reason why Goethe comes to your mind in that regard. In the 3. act of his 1773 puplished play Götz von Berlichingen he lets him say:

Er aber, sag's ihm, er kann mich im Arsche lecken!

meaning But he, tell him, he can lick me in the ass..

This is widely known as the Götz-Zitat (Götz quote).

Götz-Zitat source

There is also a canon composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart called Leck mich im Arsch.

Neither Goethe nor Mozart are the original authors of the phrase that wikipedia calls Schwäbischer Gruß.


Duden also lists Pupe as Homosexueller; berlinerisch auch für verdorbenes Weißbier but that has nothing to do with the meaning you are looking for.

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