I was making fun of someone's funny picture, and as response got a comment of

Willst du was aussetzen?

The two meanings of the verb are suspend, and expose.

Am I right in interpreting the comment as

do you want to remark on something (in specific)?

Somehow I can not get the feeling of the usage of the verb in this case.

  • 2
    Rather "criticise" (in a negative way) in this context...
    – Gerhard
    Jun 12, 2015 at 21:04
  • 1
    Note that the sentence as cited is wrong (probably due to a misunderstanding or misremembering). Aussetzen in this meaning needs an an (e.g. Willst du was daran aussetzen?), and even then it would be unusual; it is normally only used in the phrase etw. an etw. auszusetzen haben, as in the example in @Jan's answer. (Perhaps he can expand his answer a bit regarding this aspect.)
    – chirlu
    Jun 13, 2015 at 7:17
  • 2
    "Hast du was auszusetzen?" was the literal comment.
    – Keine
    Jun 13, 2015 at 7:19
  • Feel free to edit the literal comment in instead of the willst du … version ;) You know where the edit button is, don't you? (Underneath the tags on the left)
    – Jan
    Jun 13, 2015 at 12:45

1 Answer 1


The word has multiple meanings, two of which you have covered with your translations.

  • to miss a turn

    Wer eine 1 würfelt, muss eine Runde aussetzen.

  • to suspend, discontinue something

    Das Gericht setzte den Beschluss aus.

  • to expose

    Der Einsiedler stieg aus seinem Erdloch und setzte sich dem Wetter aus.

  • to set free

    Der Hund wurde an der Raststätte ausgesetzt – im Hotel war kein Platz für ihn.
    Seit wir Fische im Teich ausgesetzt haben, ist das Algenwachstum stark zurückgegangen.

  • and finally: to (negatively) criticise something

    Ich habe an deinem Bild auszusetzen, dass es lächerlich wirkt.

Most of the connotations this word implies are negative; in fact, only the fish-sentence can be understood in a positive way. I’m pretty sure that most of the meanings derived from somehow sitting something out or making something sit outside; it is now a rather widespread verb that can carry dozens of subtle meanings in context.

Note that etwas an etwas aussetzen usually requires a complement with the particle an — not present in the OP’s quote. However, I have heard the occasional German omit that complement if both parties were absolutely sure about the object that was being criticised. Omitting daran is not formally correct, though.

  • 1
    I believe criticize is too neutral in English (not equivalent to German kritisieren). Additionally, if I habe etwas auszusetzen, I do not necessarily say so. Dictionaries suggest find fault with sth.
    – chirlu
    Jun 13, 2015 at 7:47
  • Arguably, the first two meanings are actually the very same meaning in different contexts. Jun 13, 2015 at 20:55

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