Angela Merkel tried to contain her irritation when she was asked at a podium discussion in Berlin this week whether southern European countries could take much more German-ordered austerity.
But the frustration in her voice was clear enough after a week in which several European allies broke ranks, and in a public challenge to Germany, effectively declared the era of deficit reduction in Europe to be over.
"I call it balancing the budget," the German chancellor told her audience at a book presentation in Berlin.
"Everyone else is using this term austerity. That makes it sound like something truly evil."
Five months before Germany holds an election, Ms Merkel finds herself under fire from European partners and the centre-left opposition at home for continuing to insist that euro members "do their homework" – Berlin-speak for reining in spending and enacting deep structural reforms.
Ms Merkel's appearance in Berlin this week, and the reaction of her closest allies to suggestions by the European Commission that euro member states loosen their fiscal reins, shows that Germany has no intention of soften its position.