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From Bär (bear) +‎ -en- +‎ Dienst (service). Compare Swedish björntjänst, Danish bjørnetjeneste and similar forms in other languages. From the French fable L’Ours et l’Amateur des jardins by Jean de La Fontaine, in which a tame bear wants to do his master a favour by hitting a fly that has sat down on the master's forehead, but hits it so hard that both the fly and the master are killed.


  • IPA(key): /ˈbɛːrənˌdiːnst/, /ˈbeːrənˌdiːnst/, /ˈbeːɐ̯nˌdiːnst/
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Bärendienst m (genitive Bärendienstes, plural Bärendienste)

  1. disservice; mistaken favour (something that is done with the intention to help, but turns out to be detrimental)
    Indem er die öffentliche Unterstützung mehrerer einflussreicher Wirtschaftsführer gewann, leistete der sozialistische Spitzenkandidat seiner Partei einen Bärendienst.
    By winning the public support of several influential business leaders, the socialist top candidate rendered his party a disservice.