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What would be an appropriate translation of the expression "strike the iron while it's hot" in German?

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Interestingly the french expression "Battons le fer quand il est chaud" from "L'Internationale" is not translated in the most popular German version ("duldet die Schmach nun länger nicht!") – Takkat Jul 14 '11 at 9:28
-1 strike while the iron is hot wird aufgeführt, wenn man bei Leo nach "strike" sucht. "Schmieden Eisen heiß" - die Schlüsselwörter, wörtlich übersetzt, liefern bei Google sofort das Sprichwort, mit wiktionary Eintrag.. This question does not show any research effort. – user unknown Mar 9 '12 at 16:30
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Wikiproverbs suggest three different versions.

  • Das Eisen schmieden, solange es heiss ist.
    Translation: "Forge the iron while it's still hot."
    Google hits: 62.800
  • Heu machen, wenn die Sonne scheint.
    Translation: "Make the hay when the sun is still up."
    Google hits: 41
  • "Pflück die Rose, wenn sie blüht, Schmiede, wenn das Eisen glüht."
    Translation: "Pick flowers when they blossom; forge, when the iron glows.
    Google hits: 48

So the first variant is by far the most common.

Note that the Google frequency is heavily influenced by the exact wording used, so the real numbers are somewhat higher. I could for example also count the hits for "Mach heu, wenn die Sonne scheint".

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+ "Iss die Suppe, bevor sie kalt wird" und scherzhaft "Trink das Bier, bevor es kalt wird". – user unknown Mar 9 '12 at 16:33

"Man muss das Eisen schmieden, solange es heiß ist."

It is a rather common proverb.

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"Das Eisen schmieden, solange es heiß ist" is certainly a good translation, but - in Austria at least - there's also the more colloquial "Nur nichts anbrennen lassen", lit. "Don't let anything get burned", referring to food. It means not to let a chance pass you by.

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