Literally: “patch of solace” / meaning: consolidation for a big disappointment
I once had a terrible stay in a business hotel in Berlin. The whole room smelled of mold, the bed was dirty and worn out, the sink was full of fingernails, the air conditioning was so loud that sleeping was impossible and the shower gave me an electric shock. When I complained to the hotel staff after the horror night (as real Germans tend to do), they offered me a little Trostpflaster: a 10 percent discount on my next booking.
Of course, that was anything but satisfactory. But that’s what Trostpflaster are all about: they’re a small, usually rather inadequate compensation to make up for a big disappointment. For example, if your company fires you after 20 years of loyal service and gives you a voucher for your local cinema as a severance pay. The term is also frequently used in sports: For example, soccer fans often refer to the entire Europa League as a Trostpflaster for clubs that would actually have much preferred to play in the Champions League.
But of course there are also Trostpflaster in everyday life. Don’t tell me you’ve never dated someone who was kind of a Trostpflaster to cope with your breakup.