The English word "intervention" can have the following meaning (taken from wikipedia):

An intervention is an orchestrated attempt by one, or often many, people (usually family and friends) to get someone to seek professional help with an addiction or some kind of traumatic event or crisis, or other serious problem.

I have read about all the words suggested by dict.cc in a German dictionary, but none of the words seems to capture exactly this meaning of the word "intervention". Is there a German equivalent? What is it?

I have been wanting to use this word for comical effect exactly as in the television series "How I met your mother", so I am extra interested in the exact translation used in the dub of this series.

4 Answers 4


In German, "Intervention" is mostly used in the sense of political / military intervention, described in the Wikipedia under "Interventionism (politics)". There's also a concept of "intervention" in the area of medicine, mostly in cases of mental disorders (e.g. someone is in danger of committing suicide, so a "Krisenintervention" has to take place). This would resemble the "intervention (counseling)".

So, I think a German won't associate an "counseling intervention" with the term "Intervention" spontaneously, but I would expect him/her to understand the meaning. And I would expect a comical effect anyway, because there's an obvious lack of proportionality between the means and the end in the Youtube clip. So I'm sure that the meaning of "intervention" can be deduced from the scenes themselves.

  • 'Intervention' is a common term in german language, 'Das Ferrariteam intervenierte bei der Formel-1 Leitung', in a discussion: "Ich darf mal kurz intervenieren!". It's not restricted to militarism or medicine. Jul 14, 2011 at 14:00
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    @user unknown: But for me these uses of intervenieren have something slightly ironic or comic to them, especially the second one.
    – fifaltra
    Dec 30, 2013 at 14:08
  • -1 since the answer is just wrong. See de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intervention for a bunch of counterexamples. And there is no comical effect, since "Intervention" is the terminus technicus in psychology. See the german wikipedia article which is related to en:"intervention (counseling)" - de:"Psychologische Beratung" (de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychologische_Beratung): "... bezeichnet eine psychologische Maßnahme und Tätigkeit zur Aufarbeitung und Überwindung von Problemen sowie Konflikten und ist eine zentrale __Interventions__technik im Bereich der nichtheilkundlichen Psychologie" Feb 24, 2017 at 0:10
  • @jonathan.scholbach: i didn't talk about the meaning of "intervention" in general, but about a very special use case, as in the youtube clip mentioned in the question and in musiKk's answer. Because of that, i wrote: And I would expect a comical effect anyway, because there's an obvious lack of proportionality between the means and the end in the Youtube clip. So IMHO your comment is simply pointless.
    – tohuwawohu
    Mar 1, 2017 at 15:15

The dubbed version uses the direct translation: "Intervention" (not that I watch it in German, I used the powers of YouTube[dead link]).

I'm not really sure if there is a concept in Germany that's similar to the interventions shown on that show. I never heard about it before I saw it there and I never heard of anything like that to this day.

  • +1 Youtube didn't even occur to me!
    – Stovner
    Jul 14, 2011 at 7:37
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    +1 For pointing out that the concept of these "interventions" as shown in American TV shows just doesn't exist in German culture. So using the same translation as the dubbed version has the extra merit that it references the show and what was shown in it. To make the reference clearer one could say something like "Wir sollten mal so eine 'Intervention' wie in How I met your Mother machen" or "Wir könnten so eine How-I-met-your-mother-(mäßige )Intervention machen".
    – fifaltra
    Dec 30, 2013 at 14:05
  • -1 since the answer is wrong. Actually, there is such a concept, and it is called Intervention Feb 23, 2017 at 11:09

My translation is

konzertierte Aktion.

This is still somewhat formal, but no longer implying politic or diplomatic context as Intervention would do.


Intervention is the common terminology of psychologists and street workers. Eingriff or Einschreiten would be a translation without loanword. More german - greetings to Poland ;) - would just be Einmarsch.

While Eingriff or Einschreiten aren't loanwords, the best translation is just Intervention, because it is the technical term - see Watzlawick: Paradoxe Intervention.

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    After the Nazi-joke I was inclined to give -1, since it is not only offensive, but also off-topic, since Einmarsch is not the translation of intervention in the context the questioner is looking for. But it is correct, that "Intervention" is the psychological terminus technicus. That's why I gave +1 Feb 23, 2017 at 11:06
  • @jonathan.scholbach: Die politische Elite ändert ihr Vokabular alle paar Jahre, wenn sich die neuen Begriffe abgenutzt haben. Vor 10, 20 Jahren sprach man bei einem Einmarsch häufig von Interventionen. Heute sind es Friedensmissionen, oder was ist gerade der geschmeidigste Ausdruck? Wenn Dich die Bemerkung beleidigt tut es mir leid. Ich hoffe Du hälst mich jetzt nicht für einen Nazi. Feb 24, 2017 at 3:42
  • Ich halte dich nicht für einen Nazi, keine Sorge. Ich finde nur "greetings to Poland" geschmacklos mit Tendenz zu offensive speech. Zur Sache: Ich glaube, dass Einmarsch "boots on the ground" voraussetzt, während intervention auch z.B. nur das Einrichten einer Flugverbotszone bedeuten kann. Insofern ist Einmarsch keine vollstädnige Entsprechung. Mar 1, 2017 at 15:28

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