How to say that someone is clumsy in German

In German, a clumsy person is often referred to as a “Tollpatsch” (m.) or “Tölpel” (m.). The latter word was popularized by Martin Luther in the 16th century but is of uncertain origin, while the similar-sounding “Tollpatsch” originates in the Hungarian word for “broad-footed” (apparently a nickname for Hungarian infantrymen). The related adjectives are “tollpatschig” and, more rarely, “tölpisch”.

Other words for “clumsy” are “unbeholfen” (in the sense of “awkward” in movement), “ungeschickt” (in the sense of lacking skill), “trampelig” (related to the English “to trample”), as well as “plump”, “tapsig” and “ungelenk”.

Another way to refer to a clumsy person is “Trampeltier” (n.), which is actually a bactrian camel.

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