Bean counter

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Bean counter or bean counting colloquially and ironically disparagingly describes a person who is concerned with the greatest accuracy and completeness or his actions.

Originally the word had a different meaning. Up until the 19th century, a stingy and stingy person was called a bean counter, but since the 20th century the meaning of the word has expanded or shifted, namely to emphasize the petty and pedantic .


The compound bean counter has been used in German for several centuries. Grimmelshausen used the word in his novel Simplicissimus , which was published in 1668. And Adelung recorded the word in his dictionary in 1796 as a synonym for “Geitzhals”, which is used in both High German and Low German .

The opinion that the word in its more recent meaning (pedant) goes back to an incident from the life of Karl Baedeker is probably untrue .

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Bean counter  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
  • Gerhard Müller: Bean counter on muellers-reading tent

Individual evidence

  1. On the earlier meaning compare: bean counter. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 3 : E – research - (III). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1862, Sp. 740 ( ).
  2. Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: Der Abentheurliche Simplicissimus Teutsch , 1668, p. 379; Scan online in the German Text Archive , accessed on September 2, 2014.
  3. For the meaning of the term, compare this section in the Wikipedia article on Adelung; accordingly, High German for ennobling in a narrower sense is the Meißner chancellery language.
  4. ^ Johann Christoph Adelung: Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect, Volume 2, 1796, keyword "Der Geitzhals"; Scan online at , accessed September 2, 2014.
  5. The anecdote was widely circulated on the 150th anniversary of Karl Baedeker's death on October 4, 2009, e.g. B. in Focus: A bean counter invents the travel guide ( online ) and on Deutschlandfunk: Herr der Travel Guide ( online ), accessed on September 2, 2014.
  6. So represented in this version of the Wikipedia article on the bean counter (April 5, 2013) and this version of the Wikipedia article on Baedeker (August 10, 2014). See also the entry on the talk page of this article here .