Ehrenrunde: If you have to repeat a year at school in Germany, you are “running a victory lap”

“victory lap” / An extra year at school that you have to do because of bad grades

Winston Churchill did it—and so did former German President Christian Wulff as well as Thomas Mann, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. And Eminem, of course. They all “remained seated”. This is the literal translation of the German word sitzenbleiben, which means to repeat a grade. There is, however, a way funnier way of saying that someone stays down at school: Eine Ehrenrunde drehen literally means to “run a victory lap”—and is an ironically euphemistic expression for an experience that surely does not feel like a big victory.

The term Ehrenrunde has been around for decades, and might even sound a bit dusty to the younger generation of students. However, the word has experienced a renaissance in the course of the pandemic. There were discussions about whether all students should repeat the current school year so as not to suffer any deficits. This was given the catchphrase Ehrenrunde für alle by the press—“victory lap for all”.

A Sitzenbleiber is often reassured by the claim that it even happened to Einstein. However, this is a popular misconception. Apart from that, Eminem probably would serve as a much better role model for most students. 


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