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You’re Going to Get a Potch!

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Stacy from Marquette, Michigan, says her German-born grandfather would warn that she was going to get a putsch or potch, meaning a “a gentle slap” on her bottom, if she misbehaved. The German verb Patsch means “slap.” The related dialectal German term Putsch, which means a “slap” or “smack,” evolved to mean “armed insurrection” or “violent attempt to overthrow a government,” such as Adolf Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. A similar image of striking is reflected in French coup d’etát — literally a “stroke of state” — and the analogous Spanish term golpe de estado. Yiddish speakers refer to a potch in tuchus or potch in tuchis, meaning “a light slap on the bum.” The related words potchkie and potchkee can also mean to “fuss or mess around.” For example, one might speak of a person who is potchkeeing around. This is part of a complete episode.

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