What would be the most natural way of saying in German that one is "rusty" at a particular skill/language?

I have used "verrostet" myself and while native speakers have caught my meaning, I don't think I've heard them saying that themselves, so I'm wondering what the most idiomatic expression is.

  • Greetings, thanks and the like are discouraged on the SE network. I took the liberty to edit your "Thanks" out, even though I figure you know by the fact, that you got the association bonus ;) Welcome to German Language
    – Vogel612
    Jul 23, 2014 at 18:03
  • I'm the same as Phe0nix, can't comment, can only "answer the question" sorry... was the issue of "außer Übung sein" vs "eingerostet" resolved? is there basically no way of saying 'I'm a little rusty' (or 'I'm rusty' etc...) in German? would you just say 'I'm out of practice?' or are there just two different ways of expressing the point?
    – Willow
    Jul 24, 2014 at 14:33

2 Answers 2


You can use


as in

Meine Deutschkenntnisse sind schon etwas eingerostet.
My German is a little rusty.

In English - if I'm not mistaken - it's possible to attribute "rusty" to people:

I'm a little rusty [at something].

Although I hear it occasionally, I'm not quite sure the same applies to German. To me, it feels more natural to label the respective skill/language as rusty. On the other hand, this dialogue seems fine:

Kannst du noch Basketball spielen?

-- Puh, ich bin schon etwas eingerostet.

Although in this case, the "rustyness" does not explicitly refer to basketball, rather to his/her overall fitness, as Em1 pointed out.

  • 2
    In deinem Basketball-Beispiel würde ich das so verstehen, dass dieser jemand selten bis nie Sport macht und ziemlich unfit ist.
    – Em1
    Jul 23, 2014 at 19:17
  • So negativ würde ich das zwar nicht auffassen (etwas), aber du hast recht, es bezieht sich nicht explizit auf Basketball. Ich bau's ein.
    – user6191
    Jul 23, 2014 at 19:26
  • "Ich bin ein wenig eingerostet" is something people actually say if they need to convey the meaning that they're out of practice but can get into the swing of things with a little exercise. Especially elderly people use this idiom, referring to the old proverb "Wer rastet, der rostet." ("Who rests, rusts.").
    – Anonymous
    Jan 25, 2018 at 6:47

I would probably use "aus der Übung sein", literally "being out of practise". It sounds a bit more natural to me than "eingerostet".

  • I usually say außer Übung sein. Somehow makes more sense to me than aus der Übung sein. Jul 24, 2014 at 8:22
  • I'm sorry to Post this as an answer, but my reputation is too low to add a comment. @Subhamoy Sengupta in themik81's Answer: > außer Übung sein means "to be except Exercise" in english. And yes, that doesn't make sense in any of both Languages ;) What I want to say is simply, that "außer" is german for "except". Your Luck is, that "außer" sounds like "aus'er" which is lazy speach for "aus der", which makes perfect sense and was themik81's answer.
    – Phe0nix
    Jul 24, 2014 at 9:26
  • 1
    @Phe0nix: Is that not just literal translation? außer can mean other things too, as in außer Betrieb, which does not mean except operation, but out of order. If there is something that people do not use any more, it is außer Anwendung. There are various other cases, I am sure. Jul 24, 2014 at 10:50
  • 2
    @Phe0nix: While I would somehow prefer aus der Übung sein, I agree with Subhamoy that insisting on translating außer to except is pointless here. außer Atem (out of breath) and außer Sicht (out of sight) are two more frequently used expressions, and they have nothing to do with except in the sense that establishes an exception from what was mentioned before. Jul 24, 2014 at 11:12
  • (I'm very sorry for making such a hassle with my answers) @Subhamoy Sengupta again: (and partly @ O. R. Mapper) You're right in the examples you have given. I'm sorry I overlooked that use of außer, now I can see your point. But in the case above you don't use the word "Übung" like you use e.g. "Betrieb" in your examples. I can't really explain it, i think it's because of the -ng, because you also don't say "ich bin völlig außer Fassung" but "ich bin völlig aus der Fassung". All I know for sure is, that you won't say it like that in german (I'm a native german speaker, which makes me quite con
    – Phe0nix
    Jul 24, 2014 at 11:15

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