Obscure word doodle #3

My friend, Christie, shared with me today’s obscure word from the Facebook wall of Elizabeth Gilbert. The word is sitzfleisch, and I don’t know if it’s obscure so much as German, but I’d never heard it before, and I love it (and that might just be the unofficial criteria for making it into the Obscure Word Doodles project).

Sitzfleish is actually the combination of two German words: sitzen (to sit) + Fleisch (flesh). Literally, it means sitting flesh, (or butt flesh, according to Elizabeth Gilbert), but figuratively it refers to one’s ability to endure or persist in a task. I love Gilbert’s definition and commentary.

Sitzfleish means: The amount of endurance a person has for sitting still on his or her butt for the hours and hours and hours of time that it takes to get important work done…

Some of us are more fortunate than others, in that we are, shall I say, NATURALLY gifted with an excess of sitzfleisch. (Ahem…) Others of us must build up that boredom-enduring flesh over time. But one way or another, the answer is in your butt.

Sit. Stay. Work. (And every once in a while, stretch.) Repeat.


Curious how to say it? So was I.

And also, notice how I didn’t draw any actual “butt flesh”? You’re welcome!

Thank you to everyone who’s been sending me obscure word suggestions. Keep them coming!



  1. jb on June 6, 2013 at 6:07 am

    Fun! I learned something before I even had coffee today. Thanks! 🙂

    • j on June 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

      I’m here for you, my friend!

  2. Nancy on June 6, 2013 at 6:31 am

    Grinning….I have the flesh, not sure about the creative endurance! I’m off to Cayucos to ponder that!

    • j on June 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      Well, that is an excellent place for pondering. I will think of you as I, too, ponder in my not-very-beach-like backyard. #destinationenvy

  3. Annie Neugebauer (@AnnieNeugebauer) on June 6, 2013 at 8:23 am

    I love learning new German words! This is a good one. Works well with my ass-in-seat philosophy. 🙂

    • j on June 6, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      And – bonus! – it’s more impressive to say!

  4. Cynthia Fassett on June 6, 2013 at 8:45 am

    “And also, notice how I didn’t draw any actual “butt flesh”? You’re welcome!” This cracked me up! And thank you! Haha!

    That you should post this as I’m writing a blog referring to [my] “ability to endure or persist in a task,” (although, not as adorable and amusing as this one), only serves to encourage me even more. Thank you so much!

    “Curious how to say it?” Don’t you just love these sites that give us the correct pronunciation of words?

    I love this doodle! I want a poster of it, framed in red, to put on my wall!

    • j on June 6, 2013 at 1:49 pm

      You’re welcome on all counts!

      I have that line about not drawing butt flesh because that’s where my mind went first, and I thought, “I don’t know if I can even draw a butt.” And then, “I don’t even know if I SHOULD draw a butt.”

      And thus we have a red chair. And a bird. Thank goodness for my frontal lobes, right?

      Thank you back, my friend!

  5. Pam on June 6, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Sitzfleisch! Ausgezeichnet!

    Great word–and I do love that the illustration is of where one would put the sitzfleisch, not the fleisch itself. *whew*

    (And the chair is red. Yay!)

    • j on June 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      I had to look up ausgezeichnet. The translation is “awarded.” So is it a form of, “good job!”?

      And… I want a real red chair. I am now on a red chair quest. (There will be paint.)

      • Pam on June 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

        I think it means “outstanding.” *faint memories of German class flit by*

  6. Christie on June 6, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I love it! So glad I could help – love the word and love the doodle. I agree with Cynthia, it needs to be a poster :^) xoxo

    • j on June 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm

      Clearly, I need a line of goofily inspirational posters, starting with this one and “When all else fails, doodle a fish.”

      Thank you! xo

      • Nancy on June 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm

        Oooh….posters! YES!!!!!

  7. Carey on June 6, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I love that word! And I love your accompanying Doodle! I only just saw that word for the first time the other day in an article/interview with Billy Joel (he used the word, I had to go look it up). At first I thought it was Yiddish. There are some Grand Yiddish words! I know it’s Jewish, but is connected with German or a ‘fusion’ of German dialects. It was used more before the tragic times from what I read. I vote for a Yiddish Word 🙂

    • j on June 6, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      Actually Elizabeth Gilbert did mention that sitzfleish was widely appropriated in Yiddish. Y

      Feel free to send me Yiddish words you love. I am not well versed, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one I’ve never heard before!

      Thank you for the doodle love, Carey!

  8. Karin on June 6, 2013 at 10:13 am

    I feel like I should hang this above my desk at work. I always felt sitting behind a desk wasn’t real work per se but I know plenty of people who work hard doing just that.

    Here’s a little secret though: every day I keep a sheet of paper under my keyboard with which I scribble poetry verses and ideas. 🙂

    • j on June 6, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      Sometimes sitting at the desk (especially if you’re muse-hunting) is the hardest thing of all. I like your secret little weapon. Scribble on!

      • Karin on June 7, 2013 at 7:28 am

        Not sure how well my secret little weapon would be received at work, but it does help the day along 🙂

        • j on June 8, 2013 at 2:05 pm

          We’ll never tell. 😉

  9. fictional100 on June 7, 2013 at 4:50 am

    Delightful doodle! “Cute muse” especially appreciated. 🙂 I often need some superglue in my sitzen place to help me to stay there, rather than get up and pace. But once the pacing has done its rumination work, I usually rush back to sitz. “Real” work happens when I “settle,” which is undoubtedly a related word.

    Thanks for considering even this most practical aspect of creativity. It reminds me of the wonderful little book, “The Posture of Meditation,” by Will Johnson. It is all about the many aspects (alignment, yes, but also relaxation and resilience) of taking your seat and letting the body lead the mind.

    • j on June 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      I know, right? If there was a cute muse like that sitting on the back of my chair, I’d probably demonstrate a little more Sitzfleish!

      Off to Google The Posture of Meditation.. I love the idea of letting the body lead the mind. I wonder if that’s why I do much better with meditative practices that involve movement. The newest very detailed doodles for instance feel meditative to me, like I’m tapping into a zone that isn’t where I normally reside.

  10. Estrella Azul on June 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    That is one great doodle, j, love it!

    I have a green chair, thanks to my drapes fabric being longer than what I needed and I had left-over fabric to play with for upholstering said (previously ugly, brown) chair.
    So I completely endorse a fun, bright colored chair for any and all sitzfleish in progress 🙂

    • j on June 8, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      HA! Well said. I suspect my chair remodel will involve more paint than fabric, but who knows? Maybe I’ll be brave. The stool that I’m sitting on as a type, I reupholstered in green polka dots (from an ugly brown). It matches absolutely nothing in this house because, as an interior decorator, that’s how I roll. 😉

      • Estrella Azul on June 9, 2013 at 1:05 am

        You crack me up! Love how you roll as an interior decorator 😉

        But this makes me wonder: do all writers have ugly brown chairs to start out with? And does everyone change it to some form of green?
        Funny how matching our taste is regarding our “writer’s chair”.

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