Verschlimmbesserung (German)

A supposed improvement that makes things worse.


  • Posted by Thomas

    Wiktionary suggests “disimprovement” as a translation.

  • Posted by Shomarri

    Sounds like something I’ve done.

  • Posted by Daniel

    There’s also verb to it: “verschlimmbessern”.

    According to the Langenscheidt Dictionary “Handwörterbuch Deutsch-Englisch” it translates to “to disimprove” or “to make an even worse job of…”

  • Posted by I Created a New Word For Little League Parents | Not-For-Profit Dad

    […] team in the field I cobbled together a new German word — because if they can have words like Verschlimmbesserung (a supposed improvement that actually makes things worse) and Fingerspitzengefühl (the ability to […]

  • Posted by Verschlimmbesserung | Blog It or Lose It!

    […] Verschlimmbesserung (German) Something which is supposedly an improvement, but actually makes things worse. […]

  • Posted by Taliesin

    Isn’t this rather similar to “Bärendienst”? (or “bjørnetjeneste” or “karuteene” or “медвежья услуга” or… – there is a phrase meaning “bears favour” in quite a number of languages)

  • Posted by richard c

    I came upon this word while looking for a word to describe a situation where one’s actions intended to prevent harm cause greater harm – rather than a conscious effort to improve that backfires, eg. penicillin given for minor, self limiting infection that kills through adverse reaction. Or, in my own case, where I attempted to stop a china mug falling off the draining board, smashed it against the one I was holding at the time and sliced open my finger. Neither mug survived. So far, barring a reaction to the penicillin, I have. Is there any improvement (or dismimprovement) on verschlimmbesserung?

  • Posted by Ken ellis

    An excellent word that needs to be learnt by every government body from ofsted to nhs. Perhaps at this time it should be shared with network rail?

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