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Does 0815 simply mean something is very standard and common, or does it carry any connotations? Where can one use it, e.g. for description of processes, objects, persons? Can you give alternative slang words/idioms in German and especially English?

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you can use it for usernames here, too ;-) – sl0815 Jul 30 '11 at 0:48
@sl0815 :) where are your friends john doe & max mustermann? – Hauser Jul 30 '11 at 10:03
However, in these days hardly anybody in Germany knows where the expression 08/15 comes from or what it is related to. - Die meisten Leute in Deutschland haben heutzutage keine Ahnung, wo der Ausdruck 08/15 herkommt oder in welchem Zusammenhang er steht. – user5535 Feb 24 '14 at 12:24
up vote 18 down vote accepted

The expression "08/15" is used in colloquial German to express that procedures or objects are on average or mediocre.

"Dieses Verfahren ist 08/15" - This procedure is pretty standard

The use of "08/15" goes back to world war I when for the first time all German soldiers had a standard machine gun of the type MG 08/15. Not only was this gun on average technically but also the training on this gun was tedious.Source "Zwiebelfisch"

Even though possible I would not to recommend to use "08/15" on people as this may be considered to be an offense.

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08/15 - "null-acht fünfzehn", sometimes sloppily pronounced "null-acht fuffzehn" - is a rather colloquial expression and means "nothing special, average, business as usual" like the English "run-of-the-mill."

You can use it with all kind of words, people, things, abstract concepts etc.

Other German words and expression meaning the same are

  • Allerwelts-...
  • Standard-...
  • Feld-Wald-und-Wiesen-... (coll.)
  • Dutzend... (only with certain words e. g. "Dutzendmensch" and "Dutzendtag")

The idiom originates in the early 20th century's machine gun MG08 which most common version was the model 15.

There is a nice German Wikipedia article about the expression 08/15.

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never heard dutzend in this context..., thx for run of the mill – Hauser Jul 30 '11 at 10:13
  • a) Yes, it's a 0/8/15 expression
  • b) No connotation, maybe a bit of 'bureaucracy'
  • c) Usage: Yes, yes, and yes: Processes, objects and persons
  • d) alternatives
    • d1) German: [see: splattne], plus, from fauna: 'Gemeine [Haus~][ maus/katze/staubmilbe]. 'Gemein' is mostly used in the meaning of fies, unfair and often irritating, if today used, to describe something without implying a value judgment. Similar to splattnes [Feld, ] Wald- und Wiesen~... (sometimes used without 'Feld').
    • d2) English: ? [missing]
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+0.75 rounded up for a suboptimal answer (considering d) ;) – Hauser Jul 30 '11 at 10:07

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