Does anyone have a suggestion to a German translation of the term movers and shakers?

English definition from Merriam-Webster:

a person who is active or influential in some field of endeavor

  • 1
    Dict.cc translates "mover and shaker" (sing) and "movers and shakers" (pl). as einflussreiche Person and Macher, respectively. The latter one is also suggested by bab.la and translate.google. Both have the same meaning, but the former one is more formal.
    – Em1
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 13:09
  • @Em1 Why comment and not answer? Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


Since “movers and shakers” is used in an idiomatic manner in English, you’ve got to be lucky to find a German cognate, which I think will be hard to find. Therefore, it depends on the context and the person(s) it’s applied to. Here’s some rash suggestions as asked for:

  • Revoluzzer: variation of “revolutionary”, negative connotation
  • Mann der Tat: literally man of deed, who gets things done instead of just talking about them
  • Macher: literally maker, similar to Mann der Tat
  • Wegbereiter: literally way preparer, meaning trailblazer
  • Vorreiter: literally ahead rider, meaning precursor
  • der Kopf des Ganzen: literally the head of the whole thing, an intellectual father holding the reins; this one lacks the progressive aspect

I think it depends on whether you want to stress the “move” part (moving things and tasks or even thoughts) or the “shake” part (shaking the long-established foundations). If it’s actually about power, an alpha person, a leader and a decision maker, that’d be another story. I think there’s no word for “influential person”, so you would say einflussreiche Person. It’s hard to convey the “powerful” part.

Without a context, my guess would simply be Macher. Incidentally, it doesn’t matter if it’s applied to a single person (der Macher) or a group of movers and shakers (die Macher).

  • Quotation marks should be in the surrounding language; check out this answer showing why.
    – Jan
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 15:50
  • “It’s also a singulare tantum”: No. Nominative singular and plural happen to share one form (other cases don’t: des Machers/der Macher, dem Macher/den Machern, den Macher/die Macher), but both numbers exist.
    – chirlu
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:04
  • @Jan: It starts saying there’s no rule for that, and the question is about citations in German texts in general. Since languages on this platform are jumbled anyway, using quotation marks as markup for the language in use seems okay.
    – dakab
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 16:20

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