I am wondering on the use and the meaning of the word fertig in this sentence:

Bist du fertig?

In Italian a similar expression could be “Ma sei fuori/matto?” in the sense of “You are crazy!” In my personal opinion this expression can also be used as a joke in order to tease someone. I don’t take it as a personal offense.
I would really like to know what the usage and meaning of “Bist du fertig?”, is. Is it offensive in German?

  • 4
    Depends on context and on tone. If you're having a blazing row and ask "Bist du fertig?" it's kind of offensive. Other than that, it's not offensive at all. If your boss asks you if you finished your work, he'll uses these words.
    – Em1
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 13:02
  • Ok sorry I had to specify that I meant "fertig" in the sense of crazy and not finished.
    – E.V.
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 13:05
  • 4
    "Fertig" does not have a definition that corresponds with "crazy".
    – Em1
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 13:10
  • 4
    Fertig can have the meaning of exhausted (cf. fix und fertig), but the question, as such, never means anything other than are you ready.
    – Ingmar
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 13:27
  • 1
    @Em1 My boss would never say that though. Always ‘Sind Sie fertig?’ ;)
    – Jan
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 18:52

2 Answers 2


I have never heard that phrase used that way and meant to be offensive. It would typically be used as a question when inquiring if somebody is finished, for example, when wondering if you can take their plate.

I have, however, seen the word "fertig" used in an offensive manner:

Der Typ ist voll fertig.

This would mean something like

That guy is totally wasted

So you might say that when you see a person that is in an exceptional state of drunkenness, for example.

(Source: Native German speaker, lived in Germany until age 19, lived in US the last 9 years.)

  • 3
    Minor data point of reminiscence: for some reason back in my youth, at my high school, we used "der/die ist voll fertig" in the sense of "they're an emo, oversensitive wreck" (before "emo" was a thing). Weird, I know.
    – user21173
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 22:50
  • @Marakai This probably connects to the second meaning of "fertig" as exhausted in German.
    – tofro
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 6:21
  • @tofro Heh, I wouldn't have a clue. Just one of those youth language things. I mean, we were all exhausted because high school life is so hard! ;)
    – user21173
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 6:23

These kind of second meanings words acquire often due to slang as your Italian example of finished meaning crazy seldomly translate literally from language to language. See for example German blau meaning drunk which gave rise to a number of idiomatic expressions (e.g. blau wie ein Veilchen, blue as a violet) but which does not literally translate into any language I speak.

However, as stated by others, tone and situation can make the phrase mildly offensive — or perhaps only irritating? For example, if somebody is taking a lot of time on a trivial task, somebody else could ask them ‘bist du fertig?’, implying ‘get a move on!’ Saying that to a policeman or a judge in the wrong tone of voice may get you fined if either decides that it was more passive-aggressive than neutral.

The second meaning of fertig, exhaused may also give rise to the occasional mildly offensive statement, but nothing that is intrinsic of the words will make them offensive per se.

  • 2
    In fact, you could even call these false friends: blau means drunk, blue means sad.
    – Robert
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 19:43

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