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I've seen Quatsch! translated as Bullshit, which I was fine with as I had only heard it used among friends. Today, a university teacher used the Q-word in response to a student's serious suggestion in a somewhat professional setting.

How rude is Quatsch?

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    @jae not necessarily. Imagine a student expressing the opinion that you should parse HTML using regular expressions for example. Or something else that is blatantly untrue, or an often-misquoted urban legend. Depending on the tone, "Quatsch" can then be just a very straightforward dismissal - but not necessarily rude.
    – Pekka
    May 24 '11 at 22:16
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    I would usually translate "bullshit" to "Schwachsinn".
    – balpha
    May 25 '11 at 8:10
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    So would Quatsch! be more akin to Crap! or Bullcrap!, perhaps?
    – Kyralessa
    Jun 2 '11 at 3:03
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    I regurlarly use “Nee, Quatsch!” in front of students, however always because I said something stupid right before (e.g. “33 weniger 24 ist 8... Quatsch! 9!”). I wouldn't do it if I thought it'd be rude.
    – cgnieder
    Apr 26 '12 at 18:52
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    is more like nonsense than bullshit.
    – user2614
    Mar 6 '13 at 22:11
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Quatsch is not vulgar at all and can be used in normal everyday speech to denote "nonsense":

Kinder machen Quatsch. (The children fool around in a harmless and funny way, e.g. making faces.)

But replying with "Quatsch!" might be perceived as offensive in the same way as "Nonsense!" would be in English - depending on the tone, facial expression and other situational factors.


Edit: If you're in Bavaria or in Austria, you could use the equivalent expression "Schmarrn!".

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    +1 for “nonsense”, that’s actually a very good translation!
    – poke
    May 24 '11 at 21:06
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    I would like to emphasize on the relevance of the tone. Quatsch itself is more or less inoffensive, but using a loud and angry tone can make it quite offensive. That's probably quiet similar to the English nonsense.
    – Koraktor
    May 24 '11 at 21:21
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    My grandmother used to become angry when I said "Quatsch" to her. The term was/is perceived as much more offensive by older people.
    – Tomalak
    May 25 '11 at 11:54
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    +1 for Schmarrn :) !
    – Sebastian
    Jun 1 '11 at 11:57
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    In British English, I think "rubbish" would be more common than "nonsense"; but with that word too, the offensiveness depends on how you say it.
    – Nick Dixon
    Jun 3 '11 at 10:42
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Quatsch is not as strong as Bullshit.

In Germany you can use Ach, Quatsch for example if someone tells you some news you can hardly believe, and it won't be offensive at all. You may not want to use it in a very formal context.

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    true, a tiny little "ach" before makes it much less offensive. :)
    – ladybug
    May 25 '11 at 12:35
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Quatsch states that something is nonsense. In your described situation, it is not appropriate to say this to a student but it is not offensive.

It is the informal way to say: "This obviously does not make sense".

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Welcome to the university, where (like it or not) students' 'serious suggestions' are often utter bullshit, or rubbish, or what have you, and where professors (like it or not) are tasked with the responsibility not to be polite, but to formulate and express coherent, accurate thought.

Also, no, it doesn't mean 'bullshit.' It is more like saying, 'That's absurd!'

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