I asked a German Warum? and he replied back Wie warum?! .

I do not know what it means when you put both Wie and Warum together. Google Translate says it means like why.

What would you have said in English instead of saying Wie warum in German?

  • dot_Sp0T suggests "What do you mean, Why?" This is correct, but perhaps closer in tone is "Why what?"
    – TonyK
    Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 18:21

2 Answers 2


Well you were asking Why? and they answered basically What do you mean, Why?'

The phrase Wie Warum? implies that from their point of view the question does not make sense / is superfluous as it should be clear why (or Warum) something is or has happened.

Another case of Wie in a response (thanks for the reminder @Giorgio)

If you say, e.g. Mein Computer ist kaputt., someone might answer *Wie(,) kaputt?. This can either mean Was ist kaputt? (What's wrong/defective) or as well Was meinst du mit 'kaputt'? (similar to the case above).

  • 1
    Spot on. That's exactly what it is
    – Emanuel
    Commented Nov 6, 2014 at 19:34
  • 1
    I am not a native speaker, but I hear wie used in this sense very often when replying to a question or statement that is unexpected. E.g.: "Mein Rechner ist kaputt." "Wie kaputt?"
    – Giorgio
    Commented Nov 7, 2014 at 23:23
  • Yeah, I guess that's one of the Eigenheiten (peculiarities) of German. Also this is very colloquial language, you might find it in novels but certainly not in more demanding texts.
    – dot_Sp0T
    Commented Nov 8, 2014 at 8:37

A literal translation of "Wie warum?" is, "How is it a 'why'?"

A more idiomatic translation is "Why do you ask?"

The implication is that the answer is obvious and the question redundant.

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