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I was watching this video.

When the woman gets the card wrong, she says "Mist". Is this just the German way of saying "dang" or "crap"? Does it have bad connotation? Is it appropriate to use?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

The literal translation would be "manure".

It is not only limited to excrements of cows, but describes any form of animal excrements mixed with some sort of mulch (mostly Straw) that can be used as fertilizer.

Usage is, as suggested by @TheBlastOne, similar to crap in English.

It is not really an offensive word. You would usually use it if something went wrong or you made an error. Even if it is a trivial matter.

Whereas to use "Scheisse" (shit) which is more offensive the mistake would have to be more serious.

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3  
It is also used for stuff you consider bad, e.g. "die verkaufen dort nur Mist" or "wo hast du denn den Mist her". –  celtschk Jun 22 '12 at 13:37
    
Ich möchte ergänzen, dass man es quasi nur in mündlicher Rede verwendet, abgesehen von literarischen Kontexten, also man würde nicht in einer formellen Beziehung Mist benutzen, sondern der Gebrauch setzt eine gewisse Vertraulichkeit voraus, oder eine Große Überraschung. Wenn beim ICE im Tunnel die Tür wegfliegt und der Schaffner ruft "Mist" wird sich niemand beschweren. Ein Kellner, der einem Kaffee auf's Hemd spritzt dagegen ... –  user unknown Jun 22 '12 at 13:37
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Wenn beim ICE die (Einstiegs-, nehme ich an)Tür wegfliegt, wird er wohl nicht nur "Mist" sagen. Da dürfte sogar "Scheisse" noch zu wenig sein. Vielleicht aber wäre er ganz einfach sprachlos... :D –  Jürgen A. Erhard Jun 24 '12 at 17:26

"Mist" is the shit of a herbivore or omnivore, mostly a cow or a hog, mixed with a binding agent, mostly straw. The feces of a dog or an eagle are not "Mist" (but "Hundekot" and "Vogeldreck").

The exclamation "Mist!" is used like "crap!" in English. As Lukas said, it is not as offensive as "Scheiße". It could be used in children's tv without causing outrage.

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Mist/dung is not pure fecals, but always mixed up with straw or something… –  feeela Jun 27 '12 at 11:03
    
You are right. I didn't know that. Just looked it up. Wikipedia says: "Mist ist die in der Landwirtschaft bei Viehhaltung in Ställen anfallende Mischung der Exkremente von Tieren (Dung mit Fest- und Flüssigbestandteilen, vgl. Gülle und Jauche) mit einem Bindemedium, traditionellerweise der pflanzlichen Einstreu, meist Stroh, manchmal auch Hobelspäne oder Hanfhäcksel, oft vermischt mit dem vom Vieh nicht verzehrten Heu. Mist ist ein Wirtschaftsdünger und zählt zu den organischen Düngern." –  The_Fritz Jun 27 '12 at 13:38

The german word "Mist" is "dung" as well as "rubbish". A "Mistkübel" is a dustbin or a garbage can. A "Misthaufen" is a dungheap.

When ever someone speaking english uses rude words from a sexual context (most famous is "fuck") you would use in german a dirty word that comes from a fecal context (most famous is "Scheiße" - engl.: "shit").

The english word "to fuck" (in the meaning of having sex) is in german "ficken" and both come from the same origin "fuggen" which means "to fit into something" (also english "to fit" and german "einfügen" and "Fuge" come from that). But never ever a german-speaking person would say "ficken" when a english-speaker in the same situation would say "fuck". In German you say "Scheiße" or, which sounds less rude, "Mist".
To say "Mist" is ok in most situations, even if young children are listening. But you should not say "Scheiße" if young kids are listening. Never (!) say "ficken" if a person younger than 12 might listen.

Almost everyone uses dirty words in daily life. But it is really hard to learn them. You don't learn them in school nor in any official course. Everybody teaching a foreign language does as if nobody ever would use dirty words in other languages, but everybody does, in every living and every dead language.

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Never? Why not? What if I want to say "Man sagt nicht Ficken!"? ;-) And... my parents said Scheisse all the time. Even when I was young. I fuckin' love them for it. ;-) Ooops... I'm sure most kids do learn them in school. :D –  Jürgen A. Erhard Jun 24 '12 at 17:29
    
Actually using "Mist" for rubbish is decidedly Austrian. If you say "Mistkübel" in Germany, nobody will understand you (unless he's been in Austria for some time). –  celtschk Jun 25 '12 at 10:31
    
@celtschk: Really? I didn't know that. What is the word in German German (funny term) for the object that is called "Mistkübel" in Austrian German (which is my native language)? It can't be "Papierkorb", because "Papierkorb" is only for paper. Where do you throw plastic packing material, banana peels and empty beer cans in Germany? - And if "Mist" is only dung but not rubbish in German German, what are your words for "Mistplatz" and "Misttelefon"? (look at wien.gv.at/umwelt/ma48/entsorgung/mistplatz and wien.gv.at/umwelt/ma48/beratung/misttelefon ) –  Hubert Schölnast Jun 27 '12 at 7:45
    
@HubertSchölnast: Mistkübel -> Mülleimer, Abfalleimer, Mülltonne; Mistplatz -> Wertstoffhof (sometimes also "Recyclinghof"). As far as I know, there is no "Misttelefon" in Germany (there are of course numbers where you can ask about rubbish stuff, but those go directly to whoever is responsible for collecting the rubbish, and that depends on where you are (as do the rules for separating the rubbish). As of where you put the plastic stuff: That depends on where you are. Some places have a "Recyclingtonne" (also known as "gelbe Tonne"), in other places (I think that one is more common) ... –  celtschk Jun 27 '12 at 7:59
    
... you instead collect it in a bag which is collected ("gelber Sack"). Glass is generally collected in special containers, either on the Wertstoffhof, or at places around the city. Metal also goes into the "gelbe Tonne"/"gelber Sack" (or at some locations there's a separate one). Some regions also have a "Biotonne" where you put organic rubbish like banana peels. (BTW, sorry for the long time between first and second part; I got interrupted and then didn't have time to immediately finish the comment) –  celtschk Jun 27 '12 at 9:03

Not quite serious, but Homer Simpson´s "d'oh!" comes close. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%27oh, and note Home did NOT invent it.

"Crap" is close, too.

One might say "shoot" in English to avoid facies as one says "Mist" instead of "Scheisse" in German. "Mist" is what cows produce, sometimes mixed with the hay that lies on the ground in the barn. So it is not pure excrement and not really as bad, one might think.

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