I see that the MacMillan Open Dictionary thinks Zugzwang has entered the (non-chess) English language:

The Spanish debt-drama shows that Europe is in Zugzwang – a situation in chess when there is no useful move – every possible move will make the situation worse.

(Submitted from United Kingdom)

What do people think? I find this claim highly dubious. The writer, Laine Redpath Cole, also seems to suffer from the ‘the Germans have a word for it but we don’t’ disease.

Zugzwang is used in English as a chess word. It comes from German, and in German it’s used both as a chess word and in a figurative sense. But the example ‘submitted from United Kingdom’ above explains the word in attempting to introduce it.

It looks to me like the work of a translator from German who didn’t know what to do. And it comes up with reference to the EU.

Via Lisa John

4 thoughts on “Zugzwang

  1. Heavens, it’s turning up everywhere – Iran, China, [url]http://www.edaily.co.kr/news/NewsRead.edy?DCD=A00303&SCD=DD21&newsid=01876166599559752[/url] – and the Spanish pronunciation will be absolutely divine!

    Its application puzzles me. I thought the general complaint was that some people were doing all the moving and others none, so the Zwang bit seems to be missing.

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