I remember reading in German a long time ago that there is a word that describes

"spending time thinking about something, and when it comes time to doing what you thought about … its no longer optimal, since the time where that decision would have been optimal has already passed"

Does anyone know what this word might be? In the context of economics, decision making and game theory.

I think it has to do with the word "klept" as in kleptomania?

  • I'm afraid you'll have to explain yourselves a bit more. Your "spending time ..." explanation sounds like a passive thing like procastination about something. The "thief" part, however, sounds a bit like someone actively undermining a decision. I seem to be drawn to a verb like "Zeit verplempern" (not Greek, but somewhat reminds me of "klept-")
    – tofro
    Commented Feb 9 at 8:25
  • 1
    A related verb seems to be verzetteln.
    – guidot
    Commented Feb 9 at 9:31
  • Maybe related Torschlusspanik, or Zugzwang
    – king_nak
    Commented Feb 15 at 15:52
  • You should give us an example of an English sentence containing the phrase "time thief".
    – Paul Frost
    Commented Feb 16 at 17:26

4 Answers 4


I don't know of a word with "klept" in that sense.

A phonetic and semantic association I have is the word "die Gelegenheit" for an occasion/opportunity that is limited in time. Not sure if that helps.

eine Gelegenheit wahrnehmen (to seize an opportunity)
eine Gelegenheit verpassen (to pass up a chance)
eine Gelegenheit am Schopf packen (to take time by the forelock, refering to the Greek god Kairos)


What you are looking for could be

Zeit verplempern

which is used for wasting time that should have been used for something more important (like a decision that had to be made in time). Note that is somewhat colloquial.

Has nothing to do with the (originally Greek) "klept-" but uses similar sounds.


There is the word Zeitdieb. It is commonly used to describe (less important) interruptions that keep you from doing the (more) important things. Typical Zeitdiebe are:

  • the telephone
  • unexpected visitors
  • ineffective meetings
  • a flood of emails
  • miscommunication
  • chaos and clutter
  • lack of information

and so on.

There are also behavioral Zeitdiebe such as indecision and procrastination.

Google lists around 25,000 search results for the term, most of them with the meaning given above. Synonyms are Zeitfresser and Zeitfalle. The oldest evidence I can find for Zeitdieb is from 1800. It is listed in a German-Dutch dictionary from 1828 and a rhyming dictionary from 1826. So it is not a recent invention, and a well enough known word. One of Terry Pratchett's novels, Thief of Time, has been translated into German as Der Zeitdieb.

I'm unaware of a synonym that contains klepto-.

  • 1
    Never heard of this ... is this something regional? Or do you maybe mean "Zeitfresser"? Commented Feb 8 at 20:50
  • @O.R.Mapper Über den Umfang deines Wortschatzes haben wir uns ja schon einmal ausgetauscht. Bitte folge den LInks, die ich meiner Antwort hinzugefügt habe.
    – user57303
    Commented Feb 9 at 6:03
  • Ich befürchte, dass das nicht die Antwort ist, nach der der OP sucht - Keins deiner Beispiele deckt den spezifisch gesuchten Fall ab, dass die "gestohlene Zeit" dazu führt, dass eine Entscheidung zu spät fällt.
    – tofro
    Commented Feb 9 at 8:08
  • @tofro Wie beschrieben halten Zeitdiebe uns davon ab, das zu tun, was eigentlich wichtig wäre. Das kann auch eine Entscheidung sein. Z.B. führt coaching4yourfocus.de/blog/zeitdiebe als vierten Typ von Zeitdieben ausdrücklich "verzögerte und fehlende Entscheidungen" auf. Und timtimer.at/artikel/zeitfresser-zeitdiebe erläutert den Zeitdieb Unentschlossenheit: "Anstatt rechtzeitig eine vernünftige Entscheidung zu treffen, zögern Sie den Entscheidungsprozess lange hinaus [...]." Mir scheint, das ist genau, wonach OP sucht.
    – user57303
    Commented Feb 9 at 9:45
  • 1
    Wenn die Anzahl der Ergebnisse zunimmt, nachdem man die Ergebnismenge einschränkt (weil Suchbegriffe ausgeschlossen wurden), scheint mir die Zahl nicht sonderlich belastbar zu sein. Und, nein, wenn das Wort in einem Buchtitel in völlig anderer Bedeutung gebraucht wird, dann ist es keine Verwendung des hier besprochenen Wortes. Und im Pratchett-Buch geht es nun mal nicht um die hier thematisierten zeitraubenden Beschäftigungen. Commented Feb 9 at 11:06

In addition to the other good answers I think one of those could also be a fit for the given context:

  • etwas verschlafen
  • etwas zerdenken
  • nicht aus dem Quark kommen (colloquial)
  • geträumt
  • verfahren/ festgefahren
  • auf der Stelle gehen/ stampfen
  • zu verbissen sein
  • prokrastinieren

I really couldnt think about something with "klept", the closest that comes to my mind would be:

  • sich zu fest an etwas geklammert

But it doesnt really fit your description.

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