Literally: “booze idea” / meaning: crazy idea
If you ever texted your ex at 3 a.m. after you have just recovered from the breakup, you know that ideas you have under heavy alcohol influence are rarely worth imitating. Often, they are simply Schnapsideen that drive you to make the dumbest possible decisions.
Germans often like to use this word when a plan seems outrageously ludicrous and hardly anyone can imagine that it was devised in a sober state. In this context, just about every major project that has been initiated in Germany in recent years has been described by one media outlet or another as a Schnapsidee: from the failed car toll (just google “PKW-Maut”) to the construction of Berlin-Brandenburg Airport to the new Heizungsgesetz (“heating act”) that made house owners go crazy.
The word Schnapsidee is a relatively old term that can be traced back to the early 20th century. In other words, it was already around at the time when Germany came up with some seriously terrible ideas, but that’s another story.