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I was watching a "Learn German" video and heard this line:

...das ist doch Schnee von gestern!

I think I understand it, but would like to make sure. I understand that literally means "Snow from yesterday." Does this mean "Old News" or "passe"?

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When I used Google translate, the expression it gives me is "Water under the bridge." One can reasonably ask if this is synonymous with "snow from yesterday." – Tom Au Apr 16 '14 at 15:46
up vote 11 down vote accepted

It does mean exactly what you suspect, old news.

It has a humorous, yet somewhat defensive connotation, like when someone calls you out on something unfavorable and you are trying to downplay the significance of the claim, without questioning its accuracy.

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"Schnee von gestern" is a swift way of saying that something is already "passé" and has no more importance to the topic being discussed/talked about. A synonym is

"Das ist längst kalter Kaffee!".

Classic applications of these are: news (public or private), new technology/scientific knowledge, fashion.

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"That coffee's long cold" is now my new favorite phrase. Is the connotation for either of those phrases any different from "that's old news?" It seems more or less identical from these descriptions. – NL7 Apr 4 '14 at 16:50
Yeah, the meaning is really "that's old news". The reason for using the phrases discussed is that they hide the "bare truth" somehow, if the statement shouldn't sound snorty or too direct. – Sam Apr 4 '14 at 17:12

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