Are you being hassled by a sales rep at a store? Maybe you’re asking your employee for the reason why they are late? If that’s the case, you’re listening to their “Shpeel.”
Hearing someone’s shpeel could instigate a wide range of emotions, from humor to anger. This post unpacks everything you need to know about the origin and meaning of the word and how to use it in conversation.
Shpeel is the English version of the German word “spiel,” referring to a game. However, in English, the word takes on a different meaning. People will use shpeel to describe a meaningless, boring, or mediocre sales pitch.
For instance, when you’re walking into a store and a salesperson try’s to pitch you a product, you could tell them to give you their shpeel on the product. Shpeel also has a meaning as an excuse. If you think someone is about to provide you with a sob story or an excuse for their behavior, you could tell them to give you their shpeel.
Shpeel Example Usage
“Okay, John, you weren’t on time for work today; let’s hear your shpeel.”
“What do you mean you were walking home by yourself at midnight? What’s your shpeel?”
“I went to that meeting we discussed, but it was the same shpeel as last time, and I didn’t learn anything new.”
“The salesman was pushy, and I didn’t like his attitude. I cut him off mid-pitch and told him I wasn’t interested in hearing his shpeel.”
“When I get home tonight, my wife is going to ask me where we were; I better prepare my shpeel before she takes my head off.”
“The new version of GTA is the same shpeel as the last game, you know the deal, run around shooting people and getting in trouble.”
“Shpeel” is a slang term used in English for the last 100-odd years since the late 1800s. The idiom has its roots in the German and Yiddish languages. The German “spiel” and the Yiddish “shpil” both mean playing games or playing around.
Language experts think that the English version of “shpeel” has more akin to the Yiddish than the German origin of the word. The English probably anglicized the term by replacing the “i” with double “e.” However, there is no certainty on the origin of shpeel or when the word first appeared in the language.
The phrase gained popularity in the 1900s as global economies started to grow, causing the need for companies to hire salespeople and teams. The term arose when people started using it to describe a salesperson’s pitch or “shpeel.”
The connection between the word’s meaning and its modern use is that salespeople often use manipulative mind game tactics to convince the prospect to buy what they are selling.
“Spiel” appeared in the urban dictionary in 2004, and the site updated it to the new spelling of “shpeel” in 2007. The term has widespread use across the world in many different countries.
Phrases Similar to Shpeel
- Let’s hear your story.
- Pitch or presentation.
Phrases Opposite to Shpeel
- A compelling argument or point.
What is the Correct Saying?
Ways People May Say Shpeel Incorrectly
Some people may use the word shpeel incorrectly. The phrase doesn’t suit use when referring to high-quality sales pitches or presentations, and the presenter might find your use of the term offensive.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase Shpeel
You can use the word “shpeel” in professional and social situations. Most people will understand what you’re saying, even if they don’t speak German. You can use the phrase when inquiring about someone’s excuse for a situation.