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Ben walked into the room and her heart skipped a beat.

Ben betrat das Schlafzimmer und sie wurde überrascht.

How do you say "your heart skips a beat" in German? Can I use "überraschen" in this context?

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4 Answers 4

In the context of fright or fear common German idiomatic expressions are:

Ihr stockte vor Schreck das Herz.
Ihr blieb vor Schreck (fast) das Herz stehen.

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But be aware of the difference: "skipping a beat" is a short heartbeat-anomaly, "Ihr blieb fast das Herz stehen" equals a near-death experience. –  Twinkles Apr 22 at 13:57
    
@Twinkles: people still say that... they also say "ich bin vor Angst (fast) gestorben" or "Ich habe mich zu Tode erschrocken" which obviously was not true. ;) –  Takkat Apr 22 at 15:09
    
Stockte das Herz? Das ist wohl eher die wörtliche Übersetzung die zumindestens sehr ungebräuchlich ist. –  schlingel Apr 30 at 8:00
    
Vielleicht wird es weniger gehört, weil es zum gehobenen Wortschatz gehört oder weil die Verwendung weniger wird. Ungebräuchlich ist es aber definitiv noch nicht. –  Takkat Apr 30 at 8:21

Since the literal translation is not common in German you should search for other idioms that would fit better depending on context, like one of these:

"Ihr stockte der Atem" (surprised/shocked)

"Ihr blieb der Atem weg" (surprised/awed)

"Ihr schlug das Herz bis zum Hals" (nervous/scared)

"Ihr fiel das Herz in die Hose" (surprised/terrified)

"Ihr Herz schlug höher" (excited/adrenaline-rushed)

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I'd favor

Ben trat ins Zimmer und ihr Herzschlag setzte für einen Moment aus.

Für einen Moment would emphasize the temporary nature of her surprise – in fact she might have been shocked that much that her heart would not start to beat again.

However, the difference to Michael's answer is very subtle and most readers / listeners would understand it in the same way.

I would not use überraschen in this context; I think it is not strong enough. You might opt for other idiomatic expressions:

  • Sie erstarrte vor Schreck. (She froze for fright)
  • Sie war zu Donner gerührt. (She was thunderstruck)

which aren't as close to the original, though.

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The closest idiom would be:

Ben betrat das Schlafzimmer und ihr Herz setzte aus.

"sie wurde überrascht" is of course the implied cause.

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