Return carriage

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Retourkutsche (from French retour “return”, “return”) is a literal term for a reproach that is turned back on the person who made it or on the position he defended. The argumentation behavior referred to in this way, technically a retaliation or a tu-quoque argument, tends to be disparagingly rejected by the expression return coach as unimaginative and helpless, unsuitable for defense or counterattack ("return coach does not count", "does not apply", "does not drive").


The word is a borrowed from the French carrosse de retour , a term used in the postal and transport sector. This has been used in French since the 17th century to refer to a rental carriage, when the traveler had to undertake to return it to the place of rental, so that he had to return it empty at his own expense if he was not at the destination found another traveler who took them on for the return trip at a correspondingly low price.

German word history

Such empty carriage for the return trip cost was also called in English since the 18th century French style is a tit for tat , or even a return carriage .

In the parlance of Berliners , the word became a nickname for the Quadriga of the Brandenburg Gate , in memory of its triumphant return to Berlin, after it was abducted as booty to Paris in 1806 by Napoleon , therefore also popularly known as the "horse thief of Berlin". In 1814 it was rediscovered there after Blucher's invasion of Paris and was transported back to Berlin with patriotic celebrations.

In a figurative use, but in a different sense than what is usual today, the word was occasionally used as early as the 19th century to describe the irreversibility of historical progress (“In world history there are no return coaches”, Friedrich Christoph Förster ). When the now common use redensartliche way arose that makes a returned to the opponent argument from a cheap means of travel, and in French - where you just for this purpose by a return or retort speaks - has no correspondence is not specifically known. In a scientific context, it was encountered several times as colloquialism in quotation marks in Sigmund Freud's work at the beginning of the 20th century , specifically to characterize an infantile defensive behavior, a "mechanism of the infantile 'return coach'" (...) which unchanged a received accusation returns the sender ”.

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. Duden phrases. Dictionary of German Idioms , 3rd revised. and updated edition, Dudenverlag, Mannheim [u. a.] 2008 (= Duden, Volume 11), p. 624.
  2. Antoine Furetière , Dictionaire universel , Den Haag undated [1690], Volume III, Art. Retour : “On trouve sur cette route des chevaux & des carrosses de retour , qui s'en vont à vuide” (“One finds on this route horses and carriages that return empty ")
  3. ^ Paul Robert, Le Petit Robert , expanded, improved and updated edition by Alain Rey and Josette Rey-Debove, Paris: Dictionnaires Le Robert, 1990, p. 1699 Art. Retour , § I.2
  4. Francisco Cormon, Sobrino aumentdado; o nuevo Diccionario de las lenguas española, francesa y latina , Volume II, de Tournes, Antwerp 1776, p. 479 Art. retorno
  5. "On the 9th or 10th of this month a clean and commode return carriage for 4th people, looking for <er> Genff or Basel" ( Ordinary weekly Franckfurter Frag- und Anzeigungs-Nachrichten , No. 29, April 7th 1750, rubric "Looking for people all the time")
  6. Johann Jakob Schatz , The Unmasked Count, Or Extraordinary History of Miss Theodora von *** , Cölln [d. H. Berlin]: Peter Marteau, 1763, p. 18.
  7. ^ Ingeborg Weber-Kellermann, Der Berliner. An attempt at urban folklore and tribal characteristics , in: Hessische Blätter für Volkskunde 56 (1965), pp. 9–30, p. 21
  8. Contemporary caricature during the robbery of the Quadriga: The horse thief of Berlin ,
  9. ^ Frank Bauer, Napoleon in Berlin: Prussia's capital under French occupation 1806-1808 , Berlin Story Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-929829-36-3 , p. 114 ff.
  10. ^ Friedrich Christoph Förster, Detailed Handbook of the History, Geography and Statistics of the Prussian Empire , Volume 3, Berlin: Ernst Heinrich Georg Christians, 1822, p. Vii
  11. Sigmund Freud, Psychoanalytic Comments on an autobiographically described case of paranoia (Dementia paranoides) , in: Yearbook for psychoanalytical and psychopathological research 3 (1912), pp. S9–68, p. 47; see. ders., Analysis of the phobia of a five-year-old boy , ibid. 1 (1909), pp. 1–109, p. 90: "The fantasy that the mother is doing the same thing, the usual 'return coach' of accused children"