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2007-02-28 08:23:00

Word of the Day: Blitzer

They're the bane of every driver suffering from Bleifuß: speed traps. In Berlin these are usually mobile units on tripods, manned by a couple of policepersons and set up at random locations throughout the city to keep drivers on their toes, or at least with their toes hovering over the brake pedal.

The technical name is Geschwindigkeitsmeßgerät, but for some odd reason most people prefer to say Blitzer. If the name reminds you of the German word for lightning (or even Blitzkrieg), the connection's not too far-fetched: it derives from the orginal camera-based units, which set off a flash (Blitz) when taking a picture. Modern units are based on laser technology, so no telltale flashes any more, but the name persists.

The more popular radio stations (the ones with the gute Laune presenters and the same Hitmusik from the last four decades) like to call them Flitzerblitzer - flitzen means to whizz, to dash. Blitzer can also be used as a verb, as in "ich wurde von der Polizei geblitzt".

Posted at 2007-02-28 08:23:00 in