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"Bescheid wissen" means "to know something very well":

Du weißt Bescheid, was ich meine.

Something like "don't pretend that you don't know that".

When someone says that doesn't know something and the questioner replies "doch", it means "in contradiction", you know that very well:

Ich weiss es nicht.

Doch. Du weißt gut Bescheid, worum es hier geht.

So:

  1. What does "gut/besser Bescheid wissen" mean? I think "Bescheid wissen" has "gut" inside, doesn't it?

  2. Then, what's the difference between "wissen" and "Bescheid wissen"?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"Bescheid wissen" is not a stronger version of "wissen". Actually, I think that in both your examples plain simple "wissen" is more natural. If you want to go into the direction of "don't pretend that you don't know that", you would say

Du weißt genau, was ich meine.

"Bescheid wissen" often means to know the particulars of a certain situation. For example,

Was ist denn hier los? - Frag Hans, der weiß Bescheid.

or

Du brauchst nichts zu sagen, ich weiß schon Bescheid.

It is also used as a synonym of "sich auskennen" and "Ahnung haben", especially in the form "besser Bescheid wissen", e.g.

Über Grammatik weiß Hans besser Bescheid als Emil.

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"Er weiß." may be improper - "Ich weiß." as an answer is fine. ("Er kann leider nicht vorbeikommen." - "Ich weiß.") However, +1 for anything else. –  OregonGhost Jul 4 '11 at 20:04
    
@OregonGhost: Yes, you're right. On second thought, I deleted that whole part about intransitivity. It's beside the point. –  Stefan Walter Jul 4 '11 at 20:18

"Bescheid wissen" is rather neutral in itself - it just means you know something. It has two similar, but different meanings though, depending on context: It can mean you know, for example, when an event will happen ("von etwas Kenntnis haben / unterrichtet sein"):

"Du weißt, wann es los geht?" - "Ja, ich weiß Bescheid."

But it can also mean that you know something very well ("sich auskennen / etwas gut kennen"):

Ich weiß Bescheid, was Autos angeht. Damit kenne ich mich aus.

Of course, these meanings can also be used as you suggested:

Du weißt Bescheid, was ich meine. Du weißt ganz genau, was du getan hast.

This is a variation of the first meaning, with a taunting ("vorwurfsvoll") connotation.

"Gut Bescheid wissen" is a variation of the second meaning - it means someone knows e.g. his profession very well. In your example sentence, I'd rather say "genau" - "Du weißt genau Bescheid, worum es hier geht!"

"Besser Bescheid wissen" can be about both meanings. It can mean, for example, that someone knows more details of an event. It can also mean that he knows your profession better than you, i.e. is better at it:

Darüber weißt du besser Bescheid als ich.


Regarding the difference between "wissen" and "Bescheid wissen", I'm not sure what to say. However, Duden shows these meanings for "Bescheid wissen":

  1. von etwas Kenntnis haben, unterrichtet sein.
  2. sich auskennen; etwas gut kennen.

For "wissen", it's:

  1. durch eigene Erfahrung oder Mitteilung von außen Kenntnis von etwas, jemandem haben, sodass zuverlässige Aussagen gemacht werden können
  2. über jemanden, etwas unterrichtet sein; sich einer Sache in ihrer Bedeutung, Tragweite, Auswirkung bewusst sein
  3. (gehoben) davon Kenntnis haben, sicher sein, dass sich jemand, etwas in einem bestimmten Zustand, an einem bestimmten Ort o. Ä. befindet, sich etwas in bestimmter Weise verhält
  4. in der Lage sein, etwas zu tun
  5. (umgangssprachlich) in verstärkenden, floskelhaften Einschüben
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In German a "Bescheid" would be an information or a note you get (mostly from an official institution). However in the context of the phrase "Bescheid wissen" this meaning is mostly lost - but not entirely if you translate it as follows:

"Jemand weiß Bescheid" - someone is informed.

However "Bescheid wissen" can also have the meaning of being well informed or having great knowledge. To further emphasize this we may add "gut" or "genau":

"Jemand weiß gut Bescheid", "Jemand weiß genau Bescheid" - someone is very well informed, has great knowledge.

On the other hand the phrase can also be used in a more negative context like e.g. here:

"Wenn Du nicht aufhörst, bekommst Du Ärger. Du weißt Bescheid!"

This can also be shortened in slang:

"Du weißt Bescheid"

This would already imply an unspoken menace, depending on context.

The DWDS lists the following synonyms of "Bescheid wissen":

auf dem Laufenden (sein), (sich) auskennen, Bescheid wissen, gebrieft, gut unterrichtet, gutunterrichtet, im Bilde (sein), informiert (sein)

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+1. Weißt Bescheid, ne? –  OregonGhost Jul 4 '11 at 19:55
1  
I feel a need to cite Werner: Bescheid. de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werner_%28Comic%29 –  starblue Jul 10 '11 at 22:48

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