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A fidibus is a resin-rich wood chip or a folded strip of paper that serves as a lighting aid to transport a flame in the household (e), especially for lighting pipe tobacco .

These kindling aids were used in the vicinity of fireplaces and chimneys, e.g. before the spread of matches . B. in Fidibus vases, stored.

Fidibuses made of wood consist of long, tapering, helical wood chips that are cut with special tools, the fidibus planes .

Electric fidibuses were also developed in the late 19th century.


The etymology of the term, which emerged in the late 17th century, is unknown; The only thing that is undisputed is that it is an expression from student language .

Moriz Haupt suspected a joking reinterpretation of a saying by Horace as the origin: In Od. 1,36,1–3 it says Et ture et fidibus iuvat placare… deos “It is a pleasure to appease the gods with incense and strings.” The student ulcer is “with incense” as “tobacco smoke” and fidibus “with string play” has been reinterpreted as a "pipe lighter".

The German dictionary suspects a modification of the French fil de bois "thread made of wood".

Pierer's and Meyer's Lexicon lead the expression back to Fid (elibus fratr) ibus for happy brothers . The invitations for the frowned upon or secret tobacco companies were distributed on slips of paper, which were then rolled up and used to light the pipes.

Electric fidibus

In 1892 or 1893 a Mr. Frischen presented an "electric fidibus" to the Berlin Polytechnic Society for lighting gas flames. Its ignition device was supposed to help prevent accidents, especially caused by gas lighting in the theater.

For household use there were devices that had a piece of cloth or cotton wool soaked in alcohol or gasoline on a metal stick. This was sunk in a metal sleeve when in storage in the device. To use it, you took it out and ignited it with sparks generated by the device. You could then set things on fire. During World War II , when matches were scarce, hobbyists built similar devices.

As a brand name

Around 1920 there was also an electrical device called Fidibus , which was used to light a Fidibus.

It was probably manufactured and sold in Germany around 1920. It was made of Bakelite , porcelain and metal . To use it, it was plugged into a socket and, at the push of a button, the electric current flowed through the filaments and began to glow. You could then light a piece of paper (newspaper) on this. This saved expensive matches because the electricity cost little. A similar technology can be found today in the cigarette lighter in cars.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Fidibus  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. An overview of the attempts at explanation made so far can be found in Kluge. Etymological dictionary of the German language . Edited by Elmar Seebold . 25th, revised and expanded edition. De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston 2011, p. 293.
  2. Rudolf Kleinpaul : The riddles of language: Basic lines of word interpretation . (1890), p. 222 ff., Textarchiv - Internet Archive .
  3. ^ Fidibus. (PDF) In: German Foreign Dictionary. Edited by the Institute for German Language (IDS).
  4. ^ Fidibus. In: Jacob Grimm , Wilhelm Grimm (Hrsg.): German dictionary . tape 3 : E – research - (III). S. Hirzel, Leipzig 1862, Sp. 1620–1621 ( ).
  5. spill . In: Heinrich August Pierer , Julius Löbe (Hrsg.): Universal Lexicon of the Present and the Past . 4th edition. tape 6 . Altenburg 1858, p. 262 ( ).
  6. spill . In: Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon . 6th edition. Volume 6, Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig / Vienna 1906, p.  550 .
  7. ^ Central sheet for electrical engineering . Volume 5. Verlag von R. Oldenbourg, 1883, p. 535.
  8. Example of a self-made Fidibus during World War II: Heimatverein Achim: from the series Wat is dat denn? In: Achimer Kreisblatt , 2008.