When will Germans treat you to a round of pity?

It is not uncommon for a complaining person to be greeted with a chorus of “Eine Runde Mitleid!” by his German compatriots – a sarcastic expression that translates to “a round of pity!” (in the sense of ordering a round of drinks), best delivered with an extended lower lip, eyebrows pulled together and with an anguished voice. Of course, this only happens when the victim’s story is particularly un-tragic or overly dramatic.

– “Mist! Ich habe schon wieder meinen Schirm vergessen!” (“Man, I forgot my umbrella again!”)
– “Ooh, eine Runde Mitleid!” (“Aww, a round of pity!”)

The German words for “pity”, “compassion” or “empathy” are “Mitleid” (n.) and “Mitgefühl” (n.). The word “Erbarmen” (n.) is used in the sense of “mercy”.

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