10 German Idioms to sound more German
Learning languages sure has its moments of pleasure. What a joy to discover how people in another country, or speaking another language express their feelings with colorful expressions. Knowing those idioms is also a good way to sound more natural when speaking with native speakers. Here’s a first collection of German sayings. If you want some more, be sure to follow our Instagram!
1 – Die Daumen drücken
‘Die Daumen drücken’ literally means to ‘press the thumbs’. It’s funny how close this is to the actual English translation, ‘to keep one’s fingers crossed’.
2 – Um den heißen Brei herumreden
Germans are allegedly cold and direct, so you probably won’t find them ‘beating around the bush’. But if you happen to want someone to get straight to the point, you can tell them: ‘Rede nicht um den heißen Brei herum’ (lit. stop talking around the hot mash).
3 – Lügen haben kurze Beine
According to the Germans, ‘lies have short legs’. The meaning of this expression is pretty straight forward. It can be handy if you feel that the person who was previously ‘talking around the hot mash’ may now be lying to your face. Either way, their lies won’t get very far with those little legs.
4 – Fix und fertig
You may be tired of saying ‘ich bin müde’ to express how tired you feel. Well, you can also say ‘ich bin fix und fertig’. Although this translates directly to ‘I’m quick and ready’, it actually means ‘I’m exhausted’.
5 – Ich glaube ich spinne
Sometimes, German idioms make a lot of sense, and sometimes you can’t understand the origin of the expression. This one counts towards the latter. When you feel you’re going crazy, in German you literally say ‘I believe I spider’.
6 – Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof
This phrase literally translates to ‘I only understand train station‘, but is equivalent to ‘It is all Greek to me‘. It’s an old expression from WW1 soldiers who used to say that the only thing they understood when given orders was ‘train station’, as they hoped for the train back from the battlefront.
7 – Mist!
You missed your train? Or you were clumsy and dropped something? ‘Mist!’ is the perfect German word to express the frustration, angriness or surprise. You could translate ‘Mist’ with ‘Damn’.
8 – Da steppt der Bär
Your friends organized a party and you couldn’t wait to come. ‘There will be a dancing bear’ they said. Of course, there wasn’t. But you now know that you can use this expression to tell everyone where the fun’s at next time you throw a party.
9 – Einen Kater haben
You had too many pilsners at your friend’s party and regret it the following morning? Well, being hungover happens and you can surely make it through the day. But if you want to tell your German friends how you feel, you’ll need to say literally ‘I have a cat’: ‘ich habe einen Kater’.
10 – Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei
Germany is a land of sausage and poets, and that’s probably why Germans came up with this popular poetic wisdom: ‘everything has an end, only the sausage has two’. Pragmatism and simplicity: the German conception of beauty.
Unlike the “Wurst” this article comes to its one and only end. If you liked this content tune in on our Facebook page and Twitter, and you’ll surely discover new expressions and funny words. And of course, the best way to learn German is to practice speaking it. Register here to learn German with Chatterbug.