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Pein (ahd. Pīna , monthly pena , lat. 'Poena' = atonement, penance, punishment, torment) denotes in today's language “violent physical, mental discomfort; something that torments someone ”. Derivatives of this are torment , torment , embarrassing and embarrassment , but also meticulous in educational language and picky in colloquial terms .

Word history


Pein for 'punishment, agony, pain' was transformed into Germanic in the 8th century with Christianity in the form of the Old High German pīna , mhd. And mnd. pīne , pīn ' effort ' borrowed (originally Latin poena , Greek poinḗ (ποινή) 'atonement, punishment, vengeance', Latin also 'torment'). The verb torment for 'inflicting pain, tormenting', mhd. Pīnegen , pīnigen , pīngen , older also peinen , derived from this also tormenting was also created around 800. The adjective embarrassing for 'excruciating, painful, uncomfortable, shameful ' was first used in the Court language used to mean 'associated with pain of torture'. In the 16th century, an embarrassing question was used to describe a 'questioning using or threatening torture '. At the same time, embarrassing was also used with 'inner restlessness, embarrassing, internally tormenting, full of zeal', and in the middle of the 18th century also as 'conscientious, overly careful'. Since the 19th century, the West German form of picky , `` overly conscientious, overly precise, petty, tricky '' spread from Cologne from Cologne . Century.

Lexical definitions

Johann Christoph Adelung named Pein in his grammatical-critical dictionary 1798 as “1) effort, work; an outdated meaning in High German, which is still used in Lower. is encountered, and in what it is with the Franz. Peine , the Greek. πονος , and the Alban. Puna agrees. 2) The highest degree of displeasure, whether it be physical pain or discomfort of the mind; like torment and torment. feel pain, suffer. Relieve someone's pain. Pain someone in all kinds of ways. ”As embarrassment he described:“ which could be used in all the meanings of the previous adverb about the state of a person or thing, since it is embarrassing. It used to mean the embarrassing jurisdiction , the neck judgment; In what sense it is hardly used anymore. ”The German dictionary by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm named under the heading of embarrassment:

"Mhd. and md. pînlîcheit, physical or internal pain, torment, suffering; also embarrassing court proceedings, torture (Lexer 2, 273), and so still in the 16th and 17th centuries: that the prisoner was attacked with embarrassment. Dief.-Wülcker 795 (dated January 1591); what every degree of embarrassment or torture has in itself. Adrian Mittheilungen 299 (17th century); Now the word missing in the older nhd. dictionaries means an embarrassing state (ennobling), especially the embarrassing, pedantic , exaggerated care and accuracy: the brooding embarrassment (of the pedant). Kant 1, 372; punctuality in agreement with rules, but without embarrassment. 7, 167, 10, 359; He stepped out of the conscientious embarrassment that limits both his (A. Dürer's) paintings and woodcuts. Göthe 32, 50; the duke is punctual to the point of embarrassment. CF Meyer Jürg Jenatsch 140. "

- German dictionary by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, Vol. 13, Sp. 1529 to 1531

Pierer's Universal Lexikon defined Pein and the terms derived from it in 1861 as follows:

"Pain, violent pain, which makes the mind anxious and uncomfortable. Distress displaced. Hence tormenting, causing pain , also as punishment for real or attributed guilt; hence torture, otherwise vw torture, etc. Tormentor, the executioner as the executor of torture. Embarrassing questioning , 1) in the older inquisition trial, the part of the interrogator of the accused who contains the actual inquisition of the same about the perpetration of the crime for which he is guilty; 2) at the highly embarrassing neck court [...] the last repeated question to the criminal whether he would like to commit his crime. everything that has already been admitted about it again admit, after the affirmation of which the staff is broken and the offender was handed over to the messenger for execution of the death sentence; 3) so vw ordeal . Embarrassing neck court order, name of a number of state u. Imperial laws, which appeared in the beginning of the 16th century a. the order of criminal law u. Criminal trials had their subject, in particular the Embarrassing Neck Court Regulations of Emperor Karl V (Carolina), the Bambergensis and others, see Neck Court Regulations below. Embarrassing penalties, according to older German law, the penalties, which at the neck u. Hand went, to whom besides the death u. mutilating punishments including life imprisonment, dishonor, expulsion from the country and the like. complete confiscation of property was expected; Embarrassing things, such crimes that are threatened with embarrassing punishments; Embarrassing right, according to vw criminal law. "

- Pierer's Universal-Lexikon, Volume 12. Altenburg 1861, p. 782.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Pein in, accessed on November 17, 2013.
  2. meticulous in, accessed on November 17, 2013.
  3. pingelig ,, accessed on November 17, 2013.
  4. ^ Etymological dictionary according to Pfeifer ( online in DWDS , accessed on November 17, 2013).
  5. ^ Adelung, Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect, Volume 3. Leipzig 1798, p. 681 ( online at, accessed on November 17, 2013).
  6. ^ Adelung, Grammatical-Critical Dictionary of High German Dialect , Volume 3. Leipzig 1798, p. 683 ( online at, accessed on November 17, 2013).
  7. ^ German dictionary by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. 16 vols. In 32 partial volumes. Leipzig 1854–1961. List of sources Leipzig 1971 ( online in the
  8. Pierer's Universal Lexikon, Volume 12. Altenburg 1861, p. 782 ( online at, accessed on November 17, 2013).

Web links

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